According to the Center for Hearing and Communication, an estimated 3 million children in the U.S. have a hearing impairment. A small number of these (roughly 1 in 1000) are born with hearing loss, and a few others develop hearing loss due to a genetic factor. But the largest culprit is noise and it is now recognized as the leading cause of hearing loss. Hearing loss occurs when sensory hair cells in the inner ear are damaged by noises that are too loud or last for too long.
We live in a very noisy world and while many parents think to protect their children from health hazards, fewer think to protect hearing, mainly because noise is so ubiquitous. Noise damage is cumulative, so starting earlier pays off in preventing hearing loss.
Even in infancy, little ears can be damaged. Recall that baby Phelps wore headphones while watching his father’s swim-meets in the Olympics. Earphones for young children attending large sporting events such as football, baseball are an excellent idea.
While preteens are starting to make some of their own life choices, they’re still listening to their parents. That’s why it’s a great time to talk to them about noise-induced hearing loss.
Here are 3 important lessons you can teach your kids about hearing loss:
1. Hearing loss builds up over time.
It’s important to remember that the effects of loud noise on hearing add up as you age. If kids are exposed to loud sounds regularly, the risk for hearing damage increases as they get older.
2. Hearing loss can be permanent.
Noise-induced hearing loss lasts forever. Often, we don’t consider that the damage caused by prolonged exposure to loud sounds affects our ability to hear now and later in life.
Even if your kids understand the risk of hearing loss, they might not always be careful. Protecting your children’s hearing can be as simple as moving away from the source of noise, wearing earplugs in noisy environments, and turning down the volume on music devices.
3. Hearing loss is preventable!
Remember that noise-induced hearing loss is preventable. Encourage your kids to lower the volume, move away from the noise and wear hearing protection to protect their hearing.
Ways to minimize the likelihood of noise induced hearing loss:
1. Use ear protection in very loud situations, such as sporting events, amusement and fun parks target shooting, lawn mowing etc.
2. Give your ears a rest! Shorten the amount of time in noisy situations.
3.Turn the volume down when using ear-buds or headsets. If others can hear what the child is listening to, it is too loud.
Children make healthier decisions when their parents proactively talk to them about safety issues, like hearing loss. Discussing the causes and prevention of noise-induced hearing loss enables kids to make healthy hearing choices early on.
Our team of audiologists in Barrington and Marlton, NJ, understand that initiating talks with your preteen can be difficult. For more tips on talking with your children about hearing loss, call us at (856) 266-9590 or schedule a hearing evaluation today!