Did you know that an estimated 12.5% of children and adolescents aged 6–19 years (approximately 5.2 million) and 17% of adults aged 20–69 years (approximately 26 million) have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from excessive exposure to noise?
Noise threatens our hearing because when we hear sound, delicate hair cells in our inner ears vibrate. This creates nerve signals that the brain understands as sound. If we overload these delicate hair cells with exposure to loud noises, we damage them. This results in sensorineural hearing loss and often tinnitus—or “ringing in the ears.” The hair cells that vibrate most quickly—and that allow us to hear higher-frequency sounds like birds singing and children speaking—usually become damaged, dying first. Sounds 85 decibels and above put you at risk of hearing loss. Many of your child’s devices including cell phones, iPods, iPads, and tablets are capable of producing sounds at and above 85 decibels.
Here are some tips to help prevent hearing loss in your child:
- Check to see if your devices have software that includes a "volume limit feature."
- Choose headphones that block out the sound around the listener. If the headphones have a good seal, your child will be less likely to turn up the volume to drown out the other sounds.
- Limit your child's use of headphones or earbuds to only one hour per day.
- If your child is using headphones or earbuds for more than one hour per day, be sure the device is set to play at no more than 60% of the maximum value.
- Encourage your child to take regular breaks from headphones or earbuds.
- Don't listen with just one earbud. It's harder to hear the music and your child might be tempted to turn up the volume putting that one ear at serious risk.
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