As parents, our first priority is to make sure our children are always safe and healthy, both physically and emotionally. One important aspect of our child’s health that we may not be paying enough attention to is their hearing. Did you know that your child’s hearing can be damaged by their environment, without you even knowing it? This is referred to as noise-induced hearing loss.
When it comes to noise, there are safe, unsafe, and dangerously loud levels. Safe levels are noise that is 85 decibels and below. To give you an example, normal conversation is 60 decibels, while whispering is about half that or 30 decibels. Common household appliances like a blender or food processor are about 80-90 decibels. The goal when it comes to protecting your child’s hearing is to minimize his exposure to unsafe and dangerously loud levels. Being around noise that is 85 decibels and louder can cause sudden or gradual hearing loss.
Some examples of unsafe levels of noise that are 85 – 100 decibels are:
- Busy restaurants
- Toys with loud sounds
Dangerously loud levels are 110 decibels and above, such as the noise caused by:
- Jet engines
- Car stereos and portable music players turned up to maximum levels
- Amplified rock music
- Ambulance sirens
If your child is continuously exposed to noise that is 80-85 decibels and above, this can cause gradual hearing loss. For example, constant exposure to busy restaurants or motorcycle noise can affect your child’s hearing over time. On the other hand, exposure to dangerously loud levels (110 decibels and above), even just one time and for more than one minute long can instantly cause permanent hearing loss.
You may not notice it because it happens over a period of time, but your child may start to suffer hearing loss due to being exposed to loud noises. Common signs of hearing loss are when your child asks you to repeat yourself, misunderstands questions or conversations, or starts having a difficult time in school due to not understanding the teacher.
Your child might also start complaining about ringing in his ears, also known as tinnitus. When you see these signs and symptoms, inform your family doctor and let him know that you might suspect your child has hearing issues. After an initial assessment, your doctor will refer you to an ENT or audiologist for some hearing tests and let you know what kind of therapy or procedures your child needs to help him overcome this issue.
We must look out for our children’s hearing. For babies and young children, earmuffs can provide significant protection when you know that you will be going to a noisy event or place, such as a busy restaurant for dinner or your great-aunt’s once-in-a-lifetime 95th birthday.
Ear protection for children are easy to purchase and will protect your child’s ears. You should also be aware of the sound levels of the headphones and earphones your child might be using. Fortunately, noise-induced hearing loss in children is entirely preventable, with just a little more attention from us parents.
These are the ear defenders we use when we feel the noise levels are too high. Our daughter Madeleine does not mind wearing them either which is a bonus.