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Veterans: Protect Your Skin and Your Hearing

Putting sunblock on your skin

Do you know the difference in Ultraviolet B and Ultraviolet A sun’s rays? And what is a safe decibel (dB) level of noise? Here are a few quick handy answers just in time for summer.

By Matthew E. Freeman, Health Promotion Disease Prevention Committee, Veterans Hospital Columbia, Mo.
Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Ultraviolet Radiation

Protecting your skin from the harmful effects of the sun is very important during the spring and summer months. During the warmer months, the Earth is tilted in a way that allows more of the sun’s Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays to make it the surface. More UVB rays means hotter temperatures and an increased risk to skin. The sun’s Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays reach the Earth’s surface year round.

Harmful Effects

Ultraviolet A and B radiation from the sun can cause or contribute to a number of harmful effects to your skin including painful sunburn, cancer and aging. For those with fair skin, lupus, or those who take medications such as antibiotics or antihistamines, the risks are greater.

Protection

To protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun, consider wearing protective clothing such as hats, long sleeves, pants, or even sun-safe clothing, which is designed to provide even more protection. Also, consider sunblock for UVA radiation or sunscreen for UVB radiation. To ensure maximum protection, choose a product that will protect against both UVA and UVB.


Hearing Protection

Noisy Activities

Warmer months mean more opportunities to engage in activities that could result in noise-induced hearing loss. These activities include boating, motorcycling, sporting events, music concerts, or even mowing the lawn.

Harmful Effects

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) sets safe noise levels at 85 dB. Noise levels higher than this can result in Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) or tinnitus. Those with NIHL have difficulty understanding other people when they talk, especially on the phone or in a noisy room. Tinnitus is a constant ringing, buzzing or roaring sound in one or both ears. The bad news is NIHL and tinnitus can be permanent, but the good news is they are preventable.

  • Typical Lawn Mower – 85 to 90 dB, hearing damage occurs in 8 hours at this level
  • Speedboat – can exceed 90 dB
  • Motorcycle – can exceed 95 dB
  • Sporting Event – as much as 115 dB, hearing damage can occur in 15 minutes

As a rule of thumb, if you have to shout to be heard by the person standing next to you or notice your ears are ringing after exposure, your environment is too loud.

Protection

Hearing protection is useful when you cannot or choose not to avoid noise exposure. The two most popular forms of hearing protection are earplugs and earmuffs. Earplugs are inserted into the ear canal and earmuffs cover the ears. You can use one or both to protect your hearing. Both forms of protection work by decreasing the volume, or dB, of the noise reaching the sensitive structures in your inner ear.