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Parents guide on how to prevent hearing loss in your children

Parents guide on how to prevent hearing loss in your children

Today's tech-connected kids live in a high-def world. They experience Blu-ray, surround-sound audio, life-like computer graphics and 3D movies, and are bombarded by sound from television, toys, game consoles, music players and in-vehicle entertainment systems. They play in garage bands, school bands and drumlines, and they go to concerts and sporting events where noise often exceeds safe levels. Parents need to be involved in monitoring the noise levels and be aware of the dangers that can cause hearing loss.


Do

Do start early

Many parents understand the importance of limiting sound levels and exposure time, but most are unsure how to manage their kids’ listening time or material. While children are young, one thing parents can influence is the way their kids think about their hearing. Start early and teach your children to protect their hearing by encouraging them to listen to music at safe volumes and to protect their ears in loud venues by wearing ear plugs.

Do get involved

Kids know what they like, but you need to be involved when they purchase music players and other electronics. Earphones specifically designed for safe listening can reassure parents that their kids’ hearing is protected. Be sure to read the packaging and do your research.

Do promote safe listening at an early age

If you promote safe listening at an early age, there is a greater likelihood that good habits will be established, so that a pattern of listening at loud levels does not become the norm. The second they start listening to music or wearing headphones and you feel they can understand why it is so important to protect their ears, is the second you should start teaching them how.

Do know what is important to your children

Children are concerned about sound quality just like adults. They know if their music is muffled or doesn’t sound like it should. That’s why many resist sound-limiting earphones or using hearing protection at concerts. Find products that protect their ears while respecting the integrity of the music.

Do make hearing protection and safe listening earphones the rule

Get to know what’s available and compare brands. Look for passive noise-isolating earphones that block outside sound. Look for hearing protection that lets in the right amount of sound at safe levels. Make it a rule to always wear hearing protection.


Don't

Do not forget that kids care about sound quality

Look for earphones with good sound reproduction that factor in the natural response of the ear. Bass response is lost with headphones that do not seal tightly around or over the ear. Many brands artificially increase bass to compensate for what leaks out, and that degrades sound quality.

Do not assume your children know what to purchase

There are a number of influence factors that children take into consideration: peers, rock stars, celebrities, etc. You can help guide their choices.

Do not forget that band and drumline can be dangerous without hearing protection

Even young musicians need protection. Hearing loss is a function of exposure time, the average sound level, and the peak level of very loud sounds. Exposure to excessive noise from drumlines, pipe bands, marching bands, orchestras, and music from a player’s own instrument can cause permanent hearing loss - depending on the intensity and duration of the sound.

Do not be afraid to ask for guidance

If you have questions, be sure to consult your doctor or an audiologist. Remember that even if a temporary hearing loss recovers over a period of hours to days, there is a risk that repeated exposure could result in permanent hearing loss.

Do not forget to tell your children that musicians and rock stars use hearing protection

Musicians, concert promoters, etc. all know that protecting their hearing is what matters most - so they can keep on playing. Telling your children that the people they look up to also wears hearing protection, will help to convince them to do so as well.


Summary
Jumping cartoon

Hearing loss caused by noise can be caused by overexposure to any loud sounds such as fireworks, power tools, machinery, motorcycles, sporting events, gunfire and music. The risk of hearing damage depends on exposure time, the average sound level, and the peak level of very loud sounds.

Studies show that listening to music through headphones on a portable player, playing in a band or attending a concert can put listeners at risk for noise-induced hearing loss. Earphones that seal the ear canal are safest because they block outside sound. Listeners naturally choose safer levels. Be an involved parent and get to know the products your children are using.


More expert advice about Children's Health

Photo Credits: DJ Gabriel by Flickr: Jesse Gardner; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com

Gail Gudmundsen, AuDManaging Director, Audiology Division

Gail Gudmundsen, Au.D., holds a doctorate in audiology. Early in her career, she provided clinical audiology services at the two largest teaching hospitals in Chicago, after which she operated a multi-office audiology private practice for over t...

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