Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) occurs when the tiny sensory cells in the inner ear are damaged by sounds that are too loud and last too long. NIHL can be permanent but is preventable. Helping to educate your tween (8-12 years) about the effects of noise on hearing will help them develop healthy hearing habits for life.
When is an MP3 player too loud?
An MP3 player is too loud when a person standing next to you can hear the music escaping through the earbuds or earphones. Occasionally turning up the volume to hear a favorite song will not harm hearing but consistently keeping the volume up for extended periods of time can. If you are unable to hear what is going on around you while listening to your MP3 player, turn down the volume so that you can. Not only is it potentially damaging to your ears, but it may be a safety hazard if you are unable to hear sounds that could alert you to danger. It is tempting to want to turn up your MP3 player in a noisy environment but the better solution is to wait until you are in a quieter place to listen to music at a safer volume.
When should your tween wear ear protection?
If your tween puts their hands to their ears in response to a loud sound, ear protection should be worn. Certain environments such as auditoriums, gymnasiums, stadiums, concert venues, or auto races are potentially too loud. Have ear protection on hand for your tween to use as needed. Certain kinds of ear protection are small and easy to carry. Your tween should also get in the habit of wearing hearing protection whenever they use a lawn mower, power tools, or certain recreational vehicles such as snowmobiles.
What kinds of ear protection are there?
There are two general types of ear protection. Earplugs are either ready-made or custom and easy to use. Custom ear protection requires an earmold impression.
Earmuffs look like wireless headphones and are another great solution. Ear protection makes loud sounds softer and safer.
Be sure to look for the noise reduction rating (NRR) when purchasing ear protection. Greater protection is offered as the NRR increases. A NRR of 22 reduces the loud sounds 22 decibels so a 95 decibel noise would be reduced to 73 decibels (95-22 = 73) which is a much safer loudness level.
It’s a noisy world. By educating your tween about the effects of noise on hearing you are giving them the tools they need to develop healthy hearing habits for life.
Constance Brown Hearing Centers sells earplugs for a variety of uses, and can make custom hearing protection especially designed to fit your ear. For more information about this service or to make an appointment, call 269.343.2601.
By Kate Hamann, Audiologist