Human hearing is an amazing process. You can hear sounds in your environment when sound waves travel into the ear canal and cause the eardrum to vibrate. Those vibrations lead tiny hair cells in the inner ear to convert vibrations into electrical signals that the brain recognizes as sound.
When the hair cells, nerves, membranes, and other structures within the ear are damaged, you can lose your ability to hear. Unfortunately, loud noise is one of the major causes of hearing loss. Sometimes this damage is temporary, but it can often be permanent, especially when it occurs over time or is the result of very loud noise.
Although you may think of sound-related hearing loss as something that only affects older adults, it can also threaten children’s hearing. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in eight children and teens ages 6-19 have already experienced noise-related hearing loss.
If you’re a parent, you can help protect your child’s hearing by shielding them from loud noise. Dr. Kevin Sharim of Sharp Hearing Care Professionals wants to help you safeguard your child’s hearing. Here, he shares six essential tips to help you protect your child from sound-induced hearing loss.
Starting when your child is young, teach them about the potential impact of loud sounds and encourage them to move away from noise.
How do they know when the noise is too loud? If other people have to shout to be heard, the noise around them could be loud enough to harm their hearing. Remember: Even household appliances such as hair dryers and blenders can sometimes be loud enough to harm hearing.
Loud music — whether at a concert or from a radio, smartphone, or television — can damage your child’s hearing. Teach your child to turn down loud music.
Your child can wear earplugs or other types of hearing protection when attending concerts or other musical performances. They can also move themselves away from amplifiers or other electronic devices that blast music.
If your child plays a musical instrument, they may need hearing protection during band practice or performances.
A number of products advertise that they limit volumes to safe levels. However, be sure to check them yourself before your child uses them and periodically afterward to make sure they’re working adequately. Even with kid-safe headphones, encourage your child to take frequent listening breaks.
Don’t allow your child to use in-ear listening devices until they’re old enough to make good decisions about volume control.
You never know when you’ll have to protect your child’s hearing from loud noises, so carry earplugs that fit your child’s ears. Be sure to insert them at loud events such as auto races, fireworks shows, and sporting events.
Some cellphone apps measure sound. You can download one of these apps and use it to determine if the sound at an event is loud enough to damage your child’s hearing (and your hearing, too). Keep in mind that the louder a sound, the more quickly it can damage hearing.
Your child should wear earplugs or hearing-protection earmuffs when they’re near or are using a power lawnmower or snowblower, or if they ride an all-terrain vehicle, motorbike, or other noise-producing vehicle. If possible, replace noisy parts with newer, quieter parts to bring the sound levels of these machines down.
Be sure to model good hearing-protection behavior for your child. If you’re using loud machines or devices, wear earplugs and ask others around you to wear them also.
If you suspect problems with your child’s hearing, have it checked. To schedule a hearing evaluation or a hearing test for your child, contact Sharp Hearing Care Professionals directly. Our offices are conveniently located in Oxnard, Santa Barbara, West Hills, and Santa Monica, California.