Kids! Turn Down Your Headphones

Children and Hearing Loss

noise-induced hearing loss

The top audiologist in Manchester, New Hampshire has confirmed the number of children with hearing loss is steadily growing. Within the past 30 years, the number of individuals with noise-induced hearing loss has actually doubled.

Experts agree that this increase in hearing loss can be partially attributed to the popularity of personal music players.

Personal music players are often linked with noise-induced hearing loss.

This type of hearing loss is caused by exposure to loud noises and is unfortunately permanent. In order to prevent this, it is important to understand when a sound is too loud.

How You Hear Sounds

The process of hearing starts when a sound wave is captured by the outer ear, moves through the ear canal and hits the eardrum; this creates a vibration.

The vibration travels from the eardrum through three small bones in the middle ear and hits the cochlea.

That hit causes the fluid inside the cochlea to move, activating thousands of tiny hairs.

The tiny hairs will then produce an electric signal that is sent from the hairs through the auditory nerve to the brain. Finally, the brain interprets that signal as a sound.

Loud Sounds Damage Your Hearing

When a sound is too loud, it damages or kills the tiny hairs that line the cochlea. Unlike other hair cells, these don’t grow back.

Sound is measured in decibels. Anything over 85 dB (heavy city traffic) can cause damage after eight hours. Sounds over 100 dB (motorcycle) can cause damage after 15 minutes. And finally, sounds over 120 dB (jackhammer) can cause immediate damage.

Personal Music Players and Hearing Loss

Researchers have been actively studying how personal music players relate to hearing loss. A 2010 study found that a pair of standard earbuds paired with an iPod set to its maximum volume produces an average sound level of 96 dB. This is higher than what is allowed in a workplace.

One study found that 25 percent of those who use personal music players are exposed to daily noise that is loud enough to cause damage. Another study found that 90 percent of all adolescents listen to music using earbuds; almost half listen at a high-volume setting.

The best way to prevent noise-induced hearing loss is to simply turn your music down. If this does not seem like a viable solution, your Manchester audiologist recommends implementing the 60/60 rule.

This rule states that you should listen to music at 60 percent of the volume for 60 minutes a day. Researchers have concluded that this volume for this length of time will not cause any harm to your hearing.

If simply telling your child to follow the 60/60 rule will not work (we all know how well asking them to clean their room goes) your Manchester audiologist has come up with a list of suggestions.

  • Replace in-ear bud-style headphones with over-the-ear models.
  • Set a sound limit. A lot of new music players allow parents to set a listening limit which is password protected.
  • Purchase kid-safe headphones. These headphones are designed especially for children and have a lower-than-normal maximum volume level.

If you need any additional help figuring out how to protect your child from noise-induced hearing loss, contact your local Manchester audiologist.