Hearing Protection Tips for Children
Children of all ages are often exposed to many events involving loud noise. Whether your child has typical hearing or retains residual hearing from a mild-to-moderate loss, it is important to take precautions to protect their ears from potentially damaging sound.
Why Is It Important?
Prolonged exposure to loud noise can have permanent negative impacts on a child’s hearing. Hair cells inside the cochlea can be damaged, leading to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). NIHL can be a temporary or permanent condition, which makes it supremely important to protect your child’s hearing when possible.
What Can Trigger Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
Any events with large groups of people or ones involving sound production can be potentially dangerous to a child’s hearing. This includes music concerts, sporting events, fireworks shows and other community celebrations. Additionally, exposure to other common, “everyday” sound producers, such as trains, sirens, motorcycles, automobiles and power tools, can cause hearing loss in extreme cases.
What You Can Do To Protect Hearing Health
Some triggers of NIHL are hard to plan for. However, when you know your child will be exposed to one of the factors listed above, there are a number of steps you can take to potentially protect and preserve your child’s hearing health.
Wearing Hearing Protection Over the Ears
Perhaps the most obvious and easiest mode of safety is to cover your child’s ears with noise-canceling protection. Ear plugs or ear muffs allow some sound to pass but generally protect against the loudest of sounds that can be the most damaging.
Keep Your Distance From the Sound Source
This may not always be possible, but positioning yourself and your child away from the direct source of sound can be beneficial. For example, at a concert, stay a comfortable distance away from the speakers or band members. When enjoying fireworks, make sure your child is not in the direct vicinity of where the explosions occur.
Manage Your Volume
For sources of sound under your direct control (at-home music or television), be mindful of the volume. This is especially important for children who wear headphones while listening to music or working on a tablet. Avoiding maximum volume and adjusting the setting to a comfortable level can lead to better hearing health for your child.
Limit the Time
NIHL can occur with prolonged exposure to loud sounds. If necessary, reduce your time in these scenarios or set limits for your child to avoid damaging noise levels.
Monitor Noise Levels
Several phone apps that measure noise levels are free to download. Use these when out in public places or loud venues to have a better idea of what sound level your child is experiencing. The CDC has a helpful chart of common noise producers and at what decibel level damage can occur.
Take Precautions and Have Fun
Because of the chance for permanent damage, it is vital to be diligent about hearing protection. However, being mindful of sound dangers should not prohibit your family from enjoying activities. With a few easy-to-implement precautions, you can take steps toward protecting your child’s hearing health while still doing the things you love. To learn about other types of hearing loss, click here.