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Hearing Loss is Starting Younger Than Ever

Sep 16, 2016 Hearing Loss is Starting Younger Than Ever

Our world is a noisy place. For children and teenagers, the effects of noise-induced hearing loss are occurring at a younger age than ever before. See what you can do to help protect your kids’ hearing.

From noisy toys to concerts to constant use of earbuds, the dangers of high decibel levels are prevalent in our children’s lives. It is estimated that around 6 million children suffer from noise-induced hearing loss that is permanent 1.

Toys meant for toddlers and small children can produce sounds as loud as 107 decibels of sound pressure level (dB SPL) 2. For reference, a rock concert is around 120 dB SPL and permanent damage can occur within only 15 minutes of exposure.

Personal music devices used with earbuds can reach levels exceeding 110 dB at full volume 1 and children and teenagers will use these devices for hours every day.

So what can parents and guardians do?3

  • Teach your kids and teens to turn down the volume of their music. iPods and iPhones have parental restrictions to limit the maximum volume and teach children to never exceed more than half of the volume on their music device.
  • Volume limiting headphones can be purchased for kids to use with music devices and also fit small ears better than standard earbuds. Well-fitting earbuds help block out environmental noises so the volume doesn’t have to be increased to overcome background sounds.
  • Advise them to walk away from sounds that feel uncomfortably loud. If it feels like it’s too loud, it probably is.
  • Leave loud toys at the store, especially if they are meant to be used close to the ears.
  • Check toy packaging for loud noise warnings and if it seems excessively loud in the store then it will be even worse at home.
  • Obtain appropriately fitting hearing protection for kids and teens to wear during concerts, dances, and for band practice. Custom molded music protection is great for audiophiles and musicians and can be custom made by your audiologist.

Most importantly, teach children about the dangers of noise, and that once you damage your hearing, you can’t get it back. If they understand the harm of loud sounds, children will learn to turn down the music, wear hearing protection, and be proactive about their hearing health−just like wearing a seatbelt and practicing fire drills.

References

1. Kean, C. (2010, January). MPs generation: Noise-induced hearing loss rising among children and adolescents. ENT Today. Retrieved from http://www.enttoday.org/details/article/554357/ MP3_Generation_Noise-induced_hearing_loss_rising_among_children_and_adolescents.htm  

2. Bittel, S.; Freeman, B.A., & Kemker, B.E. (2008) Investigation of Toy-Noise Exposure in Children. Seminars in Hearing; 29(1). Retrieved from https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/html/10.1055/s-2007-1021768#N66122

3. American Academy of Audiology. (2008). Effort aims to curb number of kids who suffer from noise-induced hearing loss. Retrieved from http://www.audiology.org/news/pr/Pages/pr20080116.Aspx

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