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Thank you for subscribing to Men's Health, an Avera eNewsletter that provides you with information to help you live a healthy life style. To learn more about what Avera can do to partner with you to improve your health, visit www.Avera.org.

To your health,

The Avera Staff

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A recent study found that men are three times more likely than women to have hearing loss. Loud noises at work and at play are most likely the cause, experts say. Some precautionary measures can help reduce this permanent hearing loss.

In a recent presentation at the American Academy of Otolaryngology, a research study showed that noise-induced hearing loss was three times more likely in men than women. The research group included 5,290 people ages 20 to 69. The causes of hearing loss were most likely from loud machinery in the workplace, such as snow blowers, airplanes, construction equipment and lawnmowers. Recreational activities also can contribute to permanent hearing loss. Motorcycles, guns used for hunting, loud music at concerts and chain saws can cause hearing damage, especially when exposed for longer amounts of time.

Hearing loss caused by loud noises is irreversible. The vibrations affect and sometimes destroy hair cells in the inner ear that detect sound. Once destroyed, the hair cells cannot be repaired. Decibel levels up to 85 are generally safe for about eight hours a day. A refrigerator, for example, typically is 50 decibels, while a plane taking off is 140 decibels. Normal conversation measures about 60 decibels.

To protect your hearing, avoid long exposure to loud noises. Use ear plugs or ear muffs when using loud equipment or listening to loud music.

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Each year, more than 5,000 people nationwide go to emergency rooms to treat injuries from snow blowers. The machines can be convenient for snow removal, but be sure to carefully use them to prevent serious injuries.

Men ages 25 to 64 are the people who are injured the most by snow blowers. Hand injuries from snow blowers can be severe and can include amputations, loss of feeling and loss of function. The injuries may require several surgeries and months of rehabilitative therapy.

The most common reason for injury is when objects become stuck in the snow blower. Injuries occur when a person puts a hand in the auger or discharge shoot to free the object while the machine is still running. If something becomes clogged in your machine, turn it off and disconnect the spark plug or unplug it. Then use a tool to dislodge the object. Even after a machine is turned off, the force to remove the object can cause the snow blower's blades to spin.

A person's experience with the snow blower can affect likelihood of injury, according to a 2009 study by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery. Surprisingly, more injuries occur with experienced operators who have used the snow blowers for years. Research suggest that the operators may be overly confident while using the equipment, so be sure to be vigilant when blowing snow. Also, keep children inside while using the machinery. They may not know to avoid snow blowing from the machine's chute, which can cause injury.

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In Great Health online archive.