[Raising a child is hard work. You want to provide a safe, healthy, loving environment for your children to thrive, but sometimes health issues enter the picture. Just as it’s important to keep your child up to date with shots and vaccinations or providing them with a healthy diet, it is equally vital to be aware of your child’s hearing health. The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies that 1.1 billion youth globally are at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe procedures. Read more to find out ways to help protect your child from potential hearing loss.
Noise-induced Hearing Loss and It’s Impacts
What is noise-induced hearing loss? Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is hearing loss due to exposure to loud noises and could result in temporary hearing loss or even permanent hearing loss. If temporary, the hearing improves as the cells recalibrate. If one is exposed to an extremely single burst of noise, it could lead to permanent, irreversible hearing loss. In the U.S. alone, nearly 5 million children suffer from NIHL.
The World Health Organization, along with a Dutch study published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, both highlight the link between hearing loss in young people and use of personal audio devices. WHO indicates that close to half of all teenagers and young adults in adults in middle to high-income nations are exposed to unsafe levels through usage of personal audio devices. The Dutch findings support this as it concluded that signs of NIHL in those youth using personal music players. As personal audio devices and smartphones become more accessible, prolonged usage levels at higher volumes has made recreational noise exposure a serious threat to hearing loss.
Noise-induced hearing loss can impact a person’s social, professional, and educational life in negative ways. The impacts for children are even greater as NIHL could hinder language acquisition as well as learning disorders, anxiety, and attention-seeking behaviors leading to negative academic performance.
Symptoms of Hearing Damage Among Children
It is quite rare that a child would come to complain to an adult about hearing loss, or even know that they may be experiencing it. Youth often won’t complain and say, “I can’t hear well”, but may show other symptoms of hearing decline. Attention problems such as being easily distracted by background noise may be a subtle sign of your child’s hearing loss. Another subtle sign is how your child may be describing ringing in their ears (tinnitus). They may explain it as bees buzzing, trains whistling, or wind blowing, and may not report anything if they think everyone else hears the same thing they’re hearing.
In addition to these subtle symptoms, being irritable or upset in loud settings, a sporting event or noisy birthday party, may be another sign of hearing loss. Next time out at a loud environment, check to see if your child has sensitivity to the sounds.
Safe Listening Facts
Safe listening is a method of alleviating the magnitude of loud noises and scaling back the duration of listening to such loud noises in order to mitigate noise-induced hearing loss
Understanding the safe decibel (dB) levels and how long one should be listening for is important. Audiologists, hearing health professionals, and even the World Health Organization recommends that the highest level of noise exposure in the workplace is 85 dB for up to eight hours per day.
Just to give you an idea of a sound’s loudness, normal conversation is recorded at roughly 60 dB, a vacuum cleaner or normal radio listening is recorded at 75 dB, and subway trains can get up to 95 dB. If your child listens to music on their smartphone or personal audio device at very high volumes, they may be at risk to noise-induced hearing loss as the decibel levels can reach over 85 dB. So as parents, what can you do to curtail such practices?
The World Health Organization provides easy steps to make listening safe:
- Keep the volume down
- Limit time spent engaging in noisy activities
- Monitor safe listening levels
- Heed warning signs of hearing loss
- Get regular hearing check-ups
Visit Desert Valley Audiology Today for a Hearing Test!
If you, your child, or a loved one has trouble hearing or is living with hearing loss, reach out to Desert Valley Audiology and one of our professionals will be able to help you. Whether it’s a hearing test to understanding your hearing condition to getting fitted with a hearing instrument or device to improve your hearing, we will be able to figure out what path is best for you!