The number of Americans with hearing loss has doubled within the past 30 years. This number is not confined to just adults. More than ever, audiologists in Houston, Texas are seeing children with noise-induced hearing loss. This is most likely due to the increase in use of personal music players.
Noise-induced hearing loss is a type of permanent hearing loss caused by exposure to loud sounds. Sound is measured in decibels (dB). Sounds over 85 dB (such as a garbage disposal) can cause damage after eight hours. Sounds over 100 dB (such as a motorcycle) can cause damage within 15 minutes. Sounds over 120 dB (such as a chainsaw) can cause immediate damage.
Many studies have been conducted in order to find the connection between the prevalence of personal music players and the increase in children suffering from hearing loss. A 2010 study found that children using standard bud-style headphones to listen to an iPod set to its maximum volume produces an average sound level of 96 dB. This is higher than what is legally allowed in most work places. Another study found that almost 90 percent of all adolescents listen to music using earbuds and almost half of these individuals used a high-volume setting.
An easy way to prevent hearing loss is to implement the 60/60 rule. This states that you should listen to music at only 60 percent of the volume for only 60 minutes a day. Researchers have determined that this volume for this length of time will not cause any harm to your hearing.
If your child will not follow this simple rule, there are a few other things you can try.
- Replace your child’s in-ear style headphone with an over-the-ear model.
- Use the parental controls to set a listening limit. This setting is often password protected to ensure your child does not change it.
- Buy kid-safe headphones. This kind of headphone is usually designed to have a lower-than-normal maximum volume level.
The best way to prevent your children from needing a hearing aid in the future is to instill good hearing health practices while they are young. Contact your Houston audiologist for more tips and tricks for protecting your child’s hearing.