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What is noise-Induced Hearing Loss

What is noise-Induced Hearing Loss

The hearing of our children is something most parents take for granted. After the newborn screening is done at the hospital when your baby was born, parents don’t often give a second thought to their child’s hearing. However, it’s important to know that hearing loss can be caused by something present in our everyday environment and we may not even notice that we are harming our own child’s hearing. 

When hearing loss is caused by environmental factors, whether gradual or sudden, this is called noise-induced hearing loss. It’s our duty to make sure that our kids, and their hearing, are protected from this and a great way to do this is by using a pair of baby earmuffs. 

What causes noise-induced hearing loss?

First, we need to know what the normal level of noise is. Normal conversation is about 60 decibels. This is the sound level of a casual chat between family and friends. In contrast, whispering is 30 decibels, or half the level of a normal conversation. These levels are considered safe levels of noise. Household kitchen appliances, such as a blender or food processor is about 80-90 decibels. These are still considered safe levels of noise.

Being around noise that is 85 decibels and louder can cause sudden or gradual hearing loss. Some examples of noise that are 85 – 100 decibels are:

  • Busy restaurants
  • Noisy toys
  • Subways
  • Lawn mowers
  • Motorcycles
  • Snow mobiles

Dangerously loud levels are 110 decibels and above, such as the noise caused by:

  • Firecrackers
  • Jet engines
  • Car stereos and portable music players turned up to maximum levels
  • Amplified rock music
  • Ambulance sirens

If your child is consistently exposed to noise that is 80-85 decibels and above, this can cause gradual hearing loss. For example, constant exposure to subway or motorcycle sounds 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.

What are the effects of noise-induced hearing loss?

Hearing loss in children can be loss of volume or loss of both volume and pitch. Depending on the type of hearing loss, some children will be able to hear sounds that are low- pitched but will not be able to hear high-pitched sounds. Depending on the type of hearing loss, a child might be able to hear some environmental sounds but miss out on others. For example, a child with moderate hearing loss may have difficulty hearing the conversation between two people nearby but can easily hear the sound of a motorcycle from afar. 

Any kind of hearing loss in children, whether mild or moderate, can lead to delays in speech and language development, as well as social skills. These delays and issues can give your child a difficult time in communicating effectively with people around them, including you and other members of your family. Noise-induced hearing loss can also cause other physical problems like having trouble sleeping, upset stomach, and an increased heart rate.

Having your child’s hearing treated immediately is essential in helping them live a happy and productive life. In any kind of childhood issue that needs treatment or therapy, early intervention is always best. This gives your child a better chance of having a positive outcome later on in life. 

How do I know if my child has noise-induced hearing loss?

Noise-induced hearing loss can be temporary or permanent. Children exposed to loud noise over a prolonged period of time are at risk of damaging their hearing. Symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss are:

  • Ringing in the ears (also known as tinnitus)
  • Trouble hearing soft or faint sounds
  • Normal conversation may sound muffled or unclear
  • Trouble understanding people when spoken to

Your child might start asking you to repeat yourself when you ask them a question. They may also start having difficulties in school due to misunderstanding or not hearing the teacher correctly. These are some warning signs that your child might have noise-induced hearing loss, especially if these signs were not present before.

When you notice these symptoms, it’s best to bring up your concerns with your family doctor. After an initial consultation with them, they will refer you to a specialist like an audiologist or ENT to do hearing tests on your child to determine what kind of help your child needs.

What kind of treatments are available?

Hearing loss treatment usually includes hearing aids or cochlear implants. Hearing aids help people hear better and can be removed. Cochlear implants are devices that need to be surgically implanted if there is damage in the inner ear. These are not for everyone and are recommended only for children with severe to profound hearing loss. 

How can I prevent noise-induced hearing loss?

We may be damaging our children’s hearing without even knowing it, and definitely without meaning to. As parents, we need to be more aware of how our environment may be affecting our child’s hearing. We also need to remember that our hearing is not immune to being damaged, even as adults.

The most effective way of preventing noise-induced hearing loss is avoiding situations and places where there are loud sounds, as much as possible. If a situation is impossible to avoid, for example, your grandmother’s once-in-a-lifetime 90th birthday celebration and you have a 3-month-old baby to bring with you, here are some ways on how to prevent noise-induced hearing loss:

For children:

Buying and letting your baby or young child wear baby earmuffs to protect their hearing when in loud situations or crowded places

For yourself:

Monitoring and limiting the use and volume level of music listening devices
Wearing ear plugs or earmuffs to lessen noise when you know you’ll be in a loud situation or area

It’s good to remember that noise-induced hearing loss is preventable and avoidable. By purchasing a pair of New Junior baby earmuffs you can reduce the associated risks of harmful sounds. 

Parents need to be aware of the possibility of damage to their children’s ears by the everyday environment and situations they put their children in and should be more mindful of the impact that hearing loss can have on their children.