Prevent Noise-induced Hearing Loss in Children
As parents and grand-parents, we are responsible for helping children avoid the damage that excessively loud sound can do to inner ears and hearing nerves. The earlier we intervene, the better it will be.
For kids even a mild hearing loss can interfere with speech development, learning and education. But it does not have to be that way. Noise-induced hearing loss is preventable. So, give children a chance. After all, they have only just started to live…
Learn for yourselves and be aware
For adults to be effective teachers, they have to know at least the basics of this important issue. As they grow older, children and particularly teens become more discriminatory in what they accept or reject. This is why parents must be able to make their case in a convincing way.
· Learn about the hearing-related dangers of loud sound – what happens and why.
· Learn about sound levels and exposure times. Children still have very good hearing and may be bothered by sound levels that adults judge to be OK. The standard of a maximum of 85 decibels (dBs) may be too much for a child. Note that MP3 players can pump out as many as 100 decibels and more! Also, if you are in a place where it is necessary to scream to be heard, it is way too loud for adults and children alike.
· How loud is it? Get a sound meter app for your phone. However, the app must be supported by your phone platform. For example, an iPhone needs an i-compatible app.
· Learn about the best ways to protect a child’s hearing when going to the loud restaurants, movies, games and concerts. Talk to a pediatric audiologist if needed.
· Do some research and be a cautious shopper. Are protective headphones for children always reliable?
· Be aware of situations where the child may be exposed to loud sound for prolonged periods of time? Does he/she listen to MP3 players for hours on end? How loud is the music? Understand the 60/60 rule for MP3 player listening. Does he/she play in the school band? What is being done to protect student ears?
All education starts at home. The earlier children learn about smart safety and health choices, the better. Good habits become their standards and might even be seen as “cool.” Hearing is no different. Set rules and enforce them, like where and when and why hearing protection is needed. Teach them the proper use of such protection. There is a good chance that kids will adopt safe listening habits once they understand why it is important to turn down the MP3 Player and to take listening breaks. They connect to “what is in it for them.”
Lead by example
Children are very observant. Parents who say one thing but do another lose credibility very fast. Demonstrate responsible listening habits by paying attention to volume settings on your own MP3 players and by using ear protection when working with power tools or power machinery. Remind them to spare their hearing today so that they can enjoy it in the future.
In the end Albert Einstein got it right when he stated that “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.”
To learn about ears and hearing, please see my book on hearing loss: What Did You Say? An Unexpected Journey into the World of Hearing Loss, now in its second updated edition. Sharing my story and what I had to learn the hard way. Available on Kindle also.