Technology can streamline and simplify life but may also be the bane of our existence. Take music, for instance. Streaming services like Spotify enable you to carry more songs in your pocket than you could fit into an airplane hangar, and earbuds let you listen to those tunes in high-quality stereo on the go. But for all that convenience, your odds of developing hearing loss in Louisville are higher than ever – and young people are the ones most likely to pay the price.
Hearing Loss in Kids
If you think only older people suffer from hearing loss, guess again. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 17 percent of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 experience noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) in at least one ear. This condition occurs when the sensory hair cells in the inner ear are damaged due to continued exposure to loud sounds.
85 decibels (dB) is considered the safe cutoff point. That’s about the sound of Louisville traffic. Exposure to noises louder than this can lead to permanent hearing damage. The louder the sound, the less safe listening time you have; at 85 dB, it takes eight hours for long-term damage to occur. But at 100 dB, permanent hearing loss can develop in as little as 15 minutes.
Noise is inescapable; it is all around us, even when we don’t notice it. Barking dogs, lawnmowers, kitchen appliances, car alarms – these are all part of the soundtrack to our daily lives. Most often we tune these sounds out.
Young people are especially susceptible to NIHL because of the music we mentioned in our opening paragraph. More adolescents than ever before own smartphones nowadays, and a good portion of them listen to music through earbuds at levels that are unsafe. Your audiologist in Louisville recommends instructing kids to listen to music at no more than 60 percent of maximum volume. Parents, it’s up to you to be diligent: if you can hear your child’s music even when they are wearing earbuds, it’s too loud!
Further proof that technology is a double-edged sword. But there are other factors that can contribute to hearing loss in young people. The list of noisy activities kids and teens enjoy includes watching sports, riding ATVs and jet skis, attending concerts and playing an instrument.
Preventing Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
If there’s one silver lining to be found here, it’s the fact that NIHL is almost completely preventable. There are a number of steps your child can take to protect their hearing. These include:
- Give your ears a rest by taking a break from listening to music every hour or so.
- Buy earplugs and wear them anytime you are going to participate in noisy activities.
- Consider using noise-cancelling headphones instead of earbuds. These block out external sounds, allowing you to listen to music at lower volumes.
- Refrain from using fireworks; the noise generated can cause instantaneous hearing loss.
Practicing good hearing habits now will prevent complications in the future. Hearing loss in kids can affect their academic and social development and is associated with many long-term health problems including depression, anxiety, loneliness, diabetes, dementia and kidney disease.
If you’d like more tips on keeping your child safe from noise-induced hearing loss, get in touch with an audiologist in Louisville.