How to Monitor Your Child’s Noise Exposure
Unlike adult ears, children’s ears are very vulnerable to hearing loss as they are still developing, and a range of things can result in hearing loss.
Due to this, children’s ears are very sensitive, which means they can be damaged when exposed to loud noises for long periods.
This article will discuss how your children’s ears can become damaged and how you can monitor the noise they are exposed to prevent hearing loss.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Noise-induced hearing loss occurs when an individual listens to loud sounds over a long period, such as concert music or gunfire.
Although noise-induced hearing loss is often slow and painless, exposure to noise over safe levels can result in permanent hearing damage and loss.
Noise-induced hearing loss in children is a serious public concern, but some steps can be taken to prevent it.
Three factors that affect an individual’s risk of noise-induced hearing loss include how loud the noise is, how close they are to the noise and how long the noise is heard for.
Sound is measured in decibels and calculated using a logarithm, and the higher the noise level, the louder the noise. Health experts agree that continuous noise exposure to sounds over 85dB over long periods will eventually damage hearing.
Therefore, it’s in parents’ best interest to limit their child’s noise exposure and reduce decibels to preserve their hearing.
What Noises Can Damage Your Child’s Hearing?
For young children, one of the most common ways excessive noise exposure occurs is through noisy toys.
While a toy may be designed to be played with at a certain distance from the body, the child may bring the toy close to their head and ears, resulting in louder noise exposure. Toys can reach up to 110dBwhen placed near a child’s ear.
For toys, it pays to be a good consumer and look for noise ratings on the toys provided to children and choose the quieter ones. Another option is to remove batteries or cover the loudspeaker of the toy to reduce its sound output.
Movies and games
Loud movies, computer games, and traffic are other examples of where noise levels may be excessive, and it’s important to limit the time in these environments where possible.
Signs of dangerous noise levels include
- When it’s not possible to hear or understand someone standing one metre away.
- You need to raise your voice to be heard when close by.
- When speech sounds muffled after leaving a noisy area.
- When there is pain or tinnitus after noise exposure.
Parents and guardians may wish to encourage quieter activities, such as reading a book, watching a quiet movie and visiting libraries and museums. Quiet times can foster quality time with parents and children.
For tweens and teenagers, possible sources of noise exposure can include recreational activities, such as music concerts, recreational shooting, playing a musical instrument, being part of a band or personal headphones for music and games.
Teenagers should be advised to limit the level of volume and duration of time exposed to these noisy activities and use hearing protection, such as earplugs and earmuffs for noisy activities.
Headphones and earbuds can produce sound levels as loud as 110dB, and children who listen to music this loud consistently will eventually have permanent hearing loss. It’s recommended to lower the volume on personal listening devices and set it to no more than half the volume.
The World Health Organisation recommends a total of 40 hours of weekly exposure to volume levels no higher than 75dB for children on personal listening devices.
Educate Your Children on Safe Noise Levels
Children can be educated about noise-induced hearing loss and safe noise levels on websites that offer fun activities and information sessions.
It’s also helpful for parents to lead by example. Noise exposure affects all individuals, so wearing hearing protection when required and lowering volume levels set a good example for all children and create safe noise habits.
How to Know if Your Child Has Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Symptoms of noise exposure can include
- Difficulty hearing soft voices or sounds.
- Conversations sounding muffled.
- Ringing or buzzing in the ears (tinnitus).
Noise-induced hearing loss may be diagnosed by an audiologist or an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist.
An audiologist can determine the hearing thresholds and any hearing loss. Normal hearing thresholds do not include inner ear hearing damage in children when exposed to safe noise levels.
What Can You Do?
Hearing checkups are recommended at different stages in life. Newborn screens are an essential health check, and it’s recommended that all newborns have their hearing screened before leaving the hospital.
For children, regular checkups throughout childhood are commonplace and are often organised by schools. Hearing tests are recommended for children who have speech and language difficulties, concerns over school performance or classroom behaviour.
We all experience exposure to a range of noise levels in our everyday lives, and it’s important to be aware of occasions where there is excess noise and protect ourselves and our children.
Although noise-induced hearing loss is permanent, it is preventable.
If your child has recently been diagnosed with noise-induced hearing loss and you’re looking for hearing aids, EarDeals offers a wide range from global manufacturers. Browse our range or contact one of our brokers to get more information to help decide which hearing aid is suitable for your child.