Although hearing loss is often associated with advanced age, the truth is anyone of any age can experience it. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “An estimated 12.5% of children and adolescents aged 6–19 years (approximately 5.2 million) have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from excessive exposure to noise.”
One of the most common sources of noise exposure is technology—more specifically, how children listen to media using their technology. Improper headphones and earbuds usage can permanently affect hearing ability.
In this post, we review more information about noise-induced hearing loss, how loud is too loud as well as how to keep your child’s ears safe.
How Do Loud Sounds Cause Damage?
Inside the inner ear is the cochlea, which is filled with fluid and lined with sensory hair cells called stereocilia. As soundwaves travel through the ears, they move the fluid, which stimulates the stereocilia. This process converts the sound impulses into electrical energy that travels via the auditory nerve to the brain to be interpreted as sound.
When dangerously loud sounds pass through the ears, they can damage or destroy the stereocilia. Once damaged, the sensory cells do not regenerate, and the result is permanent sensorineural hearing loss.
How Loud Is Too Loud?
The fact of the matter is the duration of listening is just as important as the volume.
According to OSHA, the threshold that is considered safe is 85 dB (about the volume of passing highway traffic or a bustling café). At this volume, sounds are safe for up to eight hours of exposure.
However, if your child is plugged into their technology for longer than eight hours a day, 85 dB is too loud. For all-day listening, the volume should be limited to less than 70 dB (about the volume of a washing machine or dishwasher).
How Can I Keep My Child’s Ears Safe?
Keep your child’s ears safe by:
Limiting Their Exposure
Follow the 60/60 rule by having them listen for no longer than 60 minutes at a time at no more than 60% of the device’s maximum volume.
Setting Volume Controls on Their Smartphones & Tablets
Most devices have parental controls that allow you to set volume limits.
Switching from Earbuds to Headphones
Earbuds deliver sound directly to the ear canal, while headphones have a space buffer. Noise-canceling headphones from Sherry’s Drug on South Littler Avenue would enable your child to listen clearly without cranking up the volume to cover background noise.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call Hearing Care by Hough today.