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Protect your child from noise-induced hearing loss

Noise can pose a serious threat to a child’s physical and psychological health, including learning and behaviour.

Did you know that millions of children worldwide suffer from some degree of noise-induced hearing loss? And more noise-induced hearing loss and resultant effects are predicted to show up in young adulthood.

It’s important that parents do everything they can to protect their children from becoming part of this preventable statistic. Start when your children are young, with the toys they have, and continue to be vigilant throughout their childhood and teenage years by offering education and guidance about noise levels. Studies show that noise pollution is correlated with hearing loss in children, which in turn impacts speech, language, and cognitive, social, and emotional development.

Noise is also correlated with:

  • Sleep disorders
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Poor digestion
  • Slower learning
  • Increased irritability
  • Increased agitation

The good news is that noise-induced hearing loss is preventable. Here are some precautions parents may take to protect their children’s hearing.

Limit your child’s exposure to noise

Hearing loss can result from prolonged or repeated exposure to sounds exceeding 85 dB, hence hearing protection should be worn when exposed to sounds beyond that level. If you can’t avoid exposure above 85 dB, minimise your child’s exposure period.

Set volume control parametres

On iPhones and iPads, parents can password-protect sound restriction settings, and there are smartphone apps that limit audio or function as sound level metres. Sound metres measure the decibel level of music at a concert or the volume of a toy. Many televisions also allow consumers to choose a maximum volume level.

Invest in the proper “noise” equipment

Parents should make sure their children are using over-the-ear, noise-cancelling headphones or hearing protection such as earplugs or over-ear muffs when exposed to excessive noise at concerts, sporting events and firing ranges, for example, or when using noisy equipment like lawn mowers or ATVs.

Avoid buying noisy toys

Banishing all loud toys from the home entirely may be easier said than done. After all, it’s not always possible to prevent well-meaning friends and relatives from giving your child shrieking toys. In this case, there are a couple of things parents can do to keep down the volume on toys. For example, put water-proof tape or super glue over the speaker to mute the sound or put tape over the volume control, to prevent your child from increasing the volume to unsafe levels.

When concerns arise

If you are concerned about your child’s hearing, consult an audiologist or an otolaryngologist.

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