How to Prevent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in Children
Hearing loss in children may be due to many different causes such as genetic factors (acquired since birth), medical conditions (meningitis, otitis media, encephalitis, etc), ototoxic drugs, ear or head injury and noise exposure. For the purpose of this hub, we will study how noise exposure can result in hearing loss in children and suggest ways to prevent it.
It's pretty usual for kids to get all focused whenever they are playing with their toys, especially those with loud sounds. The same is true whenever they are listening to their music. The only problem I have with that is when I try to call them ... once, twice, thrice ... no response.
Can they still hear me? O-oh, I hope it's not because they just want to ignore me. I'm sure my son doesn't intentionally do that with that earphone plugged into his ear as he listens to his mp3. And I do hope that they won't have any hearing loss problems. With all the noisy toys and gadgets around, more and more kids and teens have actually been affected by noise induced hearing loss.
What is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss or NIHL?
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is a type of hearing loss which can be caused by exposure to a very loud noise suddenly at one time (i.e. hearing a gun shot) or exposure to loud noises for a long time period (i.e. hearing the sound of a drill at work). I’m sure you’ve heard of somebody who lost their hearing because of accidentally being exposed to loud sound. Then, there are also those who are exposed to regular loud sounds in their workplace like in a construction site.
Know why it's better for our kids to have ear plugs now than hearing aids later.
When it's really noisy, it is recommendable to protect the ears to avoid hearing impairment. Some ear protection items include ear phones, ear plug or ear muffs.
Would you like your children to use this now or hearing aids later?
When is a Sound too loud especially for children?
Sound is measured in decibels (dBs).
Two factors affect the loudness of a sound:
- the intensity of the sound (in dBs)
- the length of exposure to the sound
The higher the intensity of the noise and the longer the exposure to it, the greater the possibility of damaging the sense of hearing.
The usual conversations have an intensity of 60 dB which isn’t loud enough to cause damage.
Any sound with 85 dB or higher can cause permanent damage to the hair cells in the inner ear resulting in hearing loss especially if sustained for a long time.
Refer to the image below to find out the different levels of intensity of common sounds or go to noisyplanet.nidcd.nih.gov. You may be surprised that many of these sounds our children are exposed to are louder than what their ears can take.
Are Your Kids Being Exposed to Loud Noise?
Warning for Parents ...
Do your teens listen to music using earphones connected to an mp3 player at maximum volume?The sound this generates can be as high as 100 dBA or higher. Doing this just one hour per day is loud enough and long enough to cause permanent hearing loss.
This is a growing concern for me because my tween son is becoming hooked to listening to mp3 music from his cellphone. I do remind him to use the speaker instead of the headphone.
Do your teens join musical activities like the school band or some rock band? These are perfect opportunities for exposure to excessive noise levels. One research study showed that 26% of high-school seniors who are part of the school band (as players) had significant hearing loss.
Sometimes, my kids do get exposed to this type of noise not in a concert but in church. The Christian church where we attend here in the Philippines is not a really big place/hall and sometimes the music team plays the instruments too loud especially the drums.
Do you know that rattles and squeaky toys can create sounds up to 110 dB? Do you know that ringing toy telephones produce sounds at 129 dB? It’s not healthy when toys like these are held directly to the ear, which children normally do. These give a noise level equivalent to a jet plane taking off – one that can result to permanent hearing loss.
I don’t know about your kids, but my kids love these sounds when they were still small and they play it again and again and again.
Other toys that can pose hearing problems include vehicles with horns and sirens, cap guns, musical instruments, talking dolls and walkie-talkies.
So, it’s up to us parents to filter the sounds that our kids get exposed to in the home.
Know how loud toys are tested for its safety use by children.
Parents, Safeguard Your Children!
Help Your Kids Avoid NIHL
The following are some tips to consider to help protect our kids from NIHL:
- Avoid shouting. Well, this is one of the dilemma among kids who like to shout and scream. But guess from whom do they learn it? Yep, from mom and dad. Somehow, I’m guilty with this as well.
- Before buying a toy, listen to it first. I usually listen to what the sound or music is like or what the toy doll for example says but never to the intensity of the sound. Be sure not to forget that as well.
- If you must reduce the volume of a toy (perhaps a gift to your child), put masking tape or packing tape over the speaker. If it’s still too noisy, then take the battery out. I usually just let the battery run low and not replace it. Yeah, it’s also because I have a little budget to spend.
- Always encourage your children to keep the volume down. If you can hear the music from your son’s earphones even if you’re 3 feet away, then tell him that it’s too loud. That is really loud.
- Tell your children to give their ears a break. Refrain from non-stop listening to mp3s or iPods. And If they must, move away from the source of the noise.
- Encourage your children to wear ear plugs, ear muffs or other hearing protectors when necessary. If the noise is just temporary, their little index fingers will do as well. During New Year celebrations be sure to stock up on some ear plugs because the firecrackers and horns are just too noisy at the peak of the celebration.
Here are some websites which might help explain NIHL further. Happy reading.
© 2014 Chin chin
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