Health

Sound Advice: Turn it Down

“Hearing loss in children has become a serious problem,” said Heather Baty, audiologist at Children’s of Alabama. “It is critical to a child’s safety and to the development of many social skills, speech and learning.” 

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“Hearing loss in children has become a serious problem,” said Heather Baty, audiologist at Children’s of Alabama. “It is critical to a child’s safety and to the development of many social skills, speech and learning.” 

According to the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association, almost 12 percent of all children between the ages of 6-19 have noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). 

Part of the inner ear, called the cochlea, contains tiny hair cells that send sound messages to the brain. However, once the hair cells within the cochlea are damaged, they cannot grow back, making the damage permanent. A hearing test is often necessary to detect NIHL because many people are not aware of the loss. Children rarely complain about the symptoms of NIHL which include distorted and muffled sounds that make understanding speech more difficult. 

“Symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss can include: ringing, buzzing or roaring sounds and even pain in the ear after listening to excessively loud music.” 

Fortunately, noise-induced hearing loss is 100 percent preventable. Here are some ways to prevent NIHL: 

  • Turn it down.

A very simple way to prevent NIHL is to turn down the volume on iPods, cell phones, the television and the radio. Keep the volume at no more than 60 percent, or at normal conversation volume. Also, being able to hear music outside of the headphones is a sure sign that the volume is too loud and hearing is being affected! 

  • Limit listening time.

Another easy way to prevent NIHL is to limit the amount of time with ear buds in. A good rule is the 60 percent/60-minute rule. Keep the volume at 60 percent for no more than 60 minutes. 

  • Use hearing protection. 

Ear muffs are often less damaging than earbuds, but both can be dangerous when not used in moderation. Fortunately, both are available with features that promote safe hearing. Also, wear earplugs at concerts and places where the noise will be damaging. 

For more information on preventing noise-induced hearing loss and healthy listening habits, visit www.childrensal.org

Did You Know? 

Average decibel ratings for familiar sounds: 

  • Refrigerator humming – 45 decibels
  • Normal conversation – 60 decibels
  • Motorcycle – 95 decibels
  • MP3 player at max volume – 105 decibels
  • Sirens – 120 decibels

Source: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders 

Several products are available to protect the ears and reduce the risk of hearing loss. The challenge is getting teens to use them regularly. Here’s a few suggestions: 

  •  Volume control: Most phones should allow you to adjust the maximum volume limit. iPhone users can adjust this by going under Settings, then selecting Music. Tap Volume Limit and pull the volume slider to the level desired. To lock the volume limit, go to Settings>General, then select Restrictions. Enable restrictions and create a four-digit password, then scroll to Volume Limit, tap that and change it to “Don’t Allow Changes.” That’s it! 
  • Tune Out the Noise: Noise-cancelling headphones help drown out other sounds in the environment that can make it harder to hear your music, so you won’t be tempted to turn up the volume. 
  • Plug in: Soft, foam earplugs are inexpensive but can make a big difference in protecting your ears in loud environments, such as concerts. Avoid standing near speakers in front of the stage at concerts and clubs, too. 
  • Custom-made: Musicians often use custom-fitted ear plugs or monitors to protect their hearing. If your teen plays in a band, consider having them fitted for a pair. They are well-worth the cost when it comes to protecting their hearing long-term. 

As an editor, copywriter, and social media manager at exploreMedia, I work to develop content that is relevant and interesting to our readers and coordinate with contributing writers.

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