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How Soon Will Loud Music Contribute To Your Child’s Hearing?

How Soon Will Loud Music Contribute To Your Child’s Hearing

In a world of personal listening devices like iPods, MP3 players and cell phones, children are at more risk than ever from noise induced hearing loss. While approximately 30 million people are exposed to dangerous sound levels every day, there are few official studies on hearing loss in children. This is mainly because the risk factors are relatively new and there hasn’t been enough time to adequately map the effects; however, this doesn’t mean that auditory professionals are wrong in their concerns. They warn parents to be aware of the levels of sound that their children are exposed to, which is a danger that many don’t think about. Otherwise, experts warn that their could be an epidemic of earlier hearing loss among the upcoming technologically advanced generation

How Does Hearing Loss Happen?

It is important to be familiar with the basic anatomy of the ear in order to understand hearing loss. The cochlea, a spiral seashell shaped apparatus with tiny hair cells on it, registers sound through those cells and interprets the volume. Short term exposure to loud sounds (such as a loud concert or fireworks show) can damage these hair cells temporarily, leading to a ringing noise called tinnitus. Long term exposure will damage the cells permanently.

At What Level Does Hearing Loss Occur?

For reference, a normal conversation is approximately 60 decibels and hearing loss can occur with anything higher than 85 decibels. The average MP3 player has a max volume of 115 decibels and several surveys have suggested that many individuals, often teens, listen at noise levels that will cause gradual and permanent hearing loss. Smaller children may also be exposed at levels that are too high without their parents realizing it as well. Boston’s Children’s Hospital has released a study that determines that 60% of the potential volume for one hour a day is safe for children.

What Are The Solutions?

Protecting your child’s hearing starts when they are young and you should not let up on your teenager either.

  • Make sure that your child has proper hearing protection at concerts and loud venues. Some offer earplugs cheap or free for the regular concert goer. Given that most are approximately 140 decibels, there should be no problem still hearing the music.
  • Be aware of the volume setting when your child is listening through headphones or using your smartphone or iPod. Many models can detect when the headphone jack is being used and will alert the listener if they try to increase the volume above a recommended setting.
  • If someone in the house is hard of hearing, look into a digital hearing aid with Wi-Fi that will bring sound directly into the ear rather than turn up the volume on everything in the house.
  • If you must turn up your favorite song in the car, it is probably fine, but make sure that you are listening to everything else at a more moderate level.

Have your child’s hearing checked regularly as part of a well child check. Schools often administer hearing tests to each student, so ask for the results so you can compare them year to year. You are your child’s best defense toward making sure they aren’t doing accidental damage.

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