As the Chelsea Flower Show (22-27 May) approaches, the peak gardening season is about to begin. However, Tinnitus UK urges gardeners to take caution when mowing the lawn, trimming hedges or using power tools in their gardens, as new findings reveal that only a quarter (26%) “regularly” or “sometimes” use hearing protection. This implies that over 4 million gardeners in the UK put themselves at risk of hearing loss and tinnitus, which could both become permanent afflictions.
One in seven adults are affected by tinnitus, which causes noise perception when there is no external source. There is currently no cure for the condition.
Excessive noise can pose a risk to hearing health when it reaches 80dB or higher. Lawnmowers come in a variety of sound levels, with petrol-driven models reaching up to 95dB and ride-on models being even louder. Pressure washers, a common choice for cleaning paths and patios, can attain a volume of 94dB. Hedge trimmers are particularly problematic, with a volume of up to 103dB. Prolonged exposure to these high levels can cause hearing damage in less than eight minutes.
According to Caroline Savage, CEO of Tinnitus UK, noise exposure is the single biggest preventable cause of tinnitus, which can easily be avoided by using hearing protection. Even for quick trimming jobs, using protection is important. When it comes to loud noise levels, “Plug ’em” is our clear message.
She added, “We want to make sure that people are able to enjoy their garden to the fullest, and to be able to revel in the bird song and natural sounds in their outdoor space. We know gardening to be beneficial for people’s physical and mental wellbeing, and we’d hate for people to put that at risk. People protect their cherished plants from frost and slugs – we want protecting your ears to be second nature. There should be no stigma around using ear plugs – we only have one pair of ears, and damage to our hearing is irreversible.”
As gardens connect with nature, don’t forget to protect your ears. More information about noise exposure and hearing protection can be found at tinnitus.org.uk/join-the-cause/plugem. Tinnitus UK’s team of trained advisers can offer help and support on 0800 018 0527 or via live web chat at tinnitus.org.uk