Four Tips for Preventing Noise Induced Hearing Loss
Hearing is a precious gift, yet its’ loss is often slow and without symptoms. There are many things that can cause hearing loss in a child including frequent ear infections, viral and bacterial infections, a head injury and exposure to very loud noises. Approximately one in five teens have some form of hearing loss, which is an increase of 30% since the 1990s. One of the most common causes of hearing loss is due to noise, yet it is almost entirely preventable.
The inner ear is made up of tiny hair cells that vibrate when sound waves reach it, sending nerve signals to the brain that we interpret as sound. These cells stand upright like dominos when they are healthy, but bend over when they are damaged. This can occur when sound is too loud. Once it is bent or broken, it can no longer send signals to the brain, and therefore dies.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) occurs over time and often comes without any visible symptoms. Therefore, many people do not realize the damage being done until it is too late. Basically, if you need to raise your voice to be heard, the decibel level is too high. Personal listening devices such as iPods and other MP3 players are very popular with today’s young generation, however, listening to loud music for extended periods of time can cause irreversible damage to one’s hearing. There are ways to prevent and protect hearing loss. Here are four very important tips to help.
- Know What Noises Can Cause Damage – Damage occurs when subjected to noises over 85 decibels. Some examples of things that create this level of noise include jet engines, motorcycles and lawn movers. Personal listening devices like iPods, MP3 players can produce up to 120 decibels. By knowing what can cause damage, measures can be taken to protect and prevent damage. This can include wearing hearing protection such as earplugs when exposed to loud noises.
- Limit Exposure and Volume – Personal listening devices should be used at no more than 60% of the maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes per day. If these devices are used at a higher volume level, they should be used for shorter periods of time to prevent damage. At maximum volume, they should only be used for five minutes to prevent damage. If others can hear what is being listened to while wearing earphones or headphones, the volume is too loud and can cause permanent damage.
- Say No to Earbuds – While convenient and often free with MP3 players, earbuds or any other type of listening device that rests in the ear cause greater damage than those that rest on the ear. This is because the noise generated is closer to the eardrum, which can increase a sound’s decibels to dangerous levels. Instead, opt for over-the-ear headphones. Noise-canceling headphones are best as they block out other noises, however, their use should still be limited in volume and exposure time.
- Teach the Importance of Hearing Protection – It is important for children to understand the damage that can occur to their hearing and how to protect it. Teach them good music listening skills at an early age so they retain their good habits as they enter the teen years and beyond.
If you have questions about how to protect the hearing of your child and prevent noise induced hearing loss, our pediatric providers want to help. Call 910.486.5437 to schedule an appointment today or visit Rainbow Pediatrics online.