By our Smarty friends at Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates, P.A.
Earbuds are one of the most universally recognized accessories today. Your children and their friends all probably wear them as they listen to music and play games on their phones. But did you know that, while they may be preventing your child’s noise from bothering other people, they may be damaging your child’s hearing?
How does loud noise cause hearing loss?
Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by damage to the hair cells found in the inner ear. Hair cells are small sensory cells that convert the sounds we hear into electrical signals sent to the brain, according to the American Academy of Audiology. High levels of noise can cause this type of permanent hearing loss.
“The hair cells in the inner ear do not regenerate, thus it is vital to protect them at all ages,” CEENTA Audiologist Rachel Green, AuD, said.
What sound levels will damage my child’s hearing?
On average, a person can be exposed to sound at levels up to 80 decibels (dB) for extended periods of time without causing permanent hearing damage. This is about 67 percent of the full volume of some smartphones, which is 120 dB.
For comparison, a sporting event, garbage disposal, or lawn mower can be around 80 or 90 dB, and a firework explosion 800 feet away can have a noise range from 88 to 128 dB. If sounds get up to 80-85 dB, just two hours of exposure could leave a person with permanent hearing damage. Now, imagine that noise getting pumped directly into your child’s ears.
How can I protect my child’s hearing?
The best way to prevent your child from losing their hearing is, of course, to make sure they keep the volume low on their smartphones or other devices. They should also limit the amount of time they spend with earbuds in their ears. A good rule of thumb is, if you can hear sounds coming from your child’s earbuds, the volume is definitely too loud.
You can also consider replacing earbuds with traditional headphones. Traditional headphones can reduce volume by as much as 9 dB as they sit around the ear instead of directly in the ear canal.
In noisy setting, noise-canceling headphones are also a great idea, since your child won’t have to raise the volume to block out the sound from external sources.
If you think your child’s hearing may have been damaged from loud noise, make an appointment with a CEENTA ENT doctor or audiologist by calling 704-295-3000.