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How to Protect Your Child’s Hearing


If you’re flinching because your teen’s music is too loud or if you find yourself leaving the room when your toddler starts playing with a noisy toy, remember that children and teens have shorter ear canals, making them more susceptible to damage from noises that may just be annoying to an adult. The ear is, unfortunately, susceptible to sudden, irreversible damage.

There are concerns, too, that excessive noise may damage more than just your child’s hearing. “Noise pollution” can adversely affect a child’s health, sources say, affecting their nervous and circulatory systems.

Protecting your child’s hearing requires awareness and some practical steps. Here are some tips.

How loud is too loud?

Sound is measured in decibels (dBs). Your dishwasher probably runs at a noise level of about 60 dB. A jet is double that at about 120 dBs. Fireworks go off at about 140 dBs, and most concerts and live car races are around 110 dBs.

Most sources agree that exposure to noises over 80 dBs, especially prolonged or repeated, can cause hearing damage in adults. For children, hearing damage may occur at lower dBs. A stereo speaker at full volume is about 100 dBs, and some children’s toys such as cap guns have been measured at 115 dBs.

So what should you do?

Turn down stereos and television. If you have trouble hearing and need to turn up the volume, look into earphones or other means by which you can listen without exposing everyone in the household to the noise.

Treat ear infections promptly. Infections can result in hearing damage if not treated right away.

Toys do not need to make noise to be fun. Remove batteries or remove the noise-making parts from offensive toys.

Provide ear protection. When you know your baby or child will be exposed to loud noises, such as car and truck races, concerts, fireworks, and so forth, have headphones available. Keep ear protectors with you, especially if you’ll be in a city or where there might be unexpected loud noises (ambulances produce 130 dBs of noise).

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When it comes to noise reduction and hearing protection, it’s not just about the noise you block out – it’s also about the quiet you implement. Allow time for quiet in your child’s life each day.

For more information about hearing and children:  Noise-Induced Hearing Loss from the CDC