You will often see baby’s at sport’s games or outdoor events wearing big headphones or baby earmuffs and think is that really necessary?
The answer is yes they aren’t just a fashion statement there have been multiple studies that show the necessity of protecting your tiny ears with baby earmuffs.
On average, infants perceive sound much louder than adults. So if loud noises are potentially dangerous or slightly uncomfortable to an adult, can you imagine the danger they pose to a child?
According to the Minnesota Department of Education, hearing loss can happen after one short burst of dangerous sound levels or exposure to any unsafe noise level for a long period.
For example, exposure to noise above 110 dB can cause hearing loss even when exposure happens for just a single minute. Some examples of noises over 110db are power tools, loud music, machines, motorboats, planes or a car horn.
The Environmental Protection Agency in the US says that anything above 85 dB puts baby’s ears at risk of gradual hearing loss. These noises could include kitchen appliances, traffic, radios, TV or a vacuum cleaner.
The damaging effects of loud noises
Your child’s senses are far more delicate than those of adults. Noise-induced hearing loss is commonly witnessed among adults but recently, the number of children in the doctors waiting room is increasing. The World Health Organization classifies noise exposure as a major cause of permanent hearing loss around the world. Of these cases, 60% are avoidable through protection such as our New Junior baby earmuffs. A child’s ear follicles are extra-sensitive so exposure to loud noises can cause permanent hearing damage and even loss.
If the noise is potentially dangerous to an adult then it is even more dangerous for a baby. Loud noise can cause noise-induced hearing loss in younger children. Their inner ears may be damaged if they are around extremely loud noises or around loud noises for long periods of time.
Noise is measured in decibels. A normal conversation is usually about 60 decibels. Noise that is above 85 dB can cause hearing loss. Permanent hearing loss can actually happen when a baby is exposed to noise of between 110 dB and 15O decibels. Gradual hearing loss may happen over time when a child is exposed to noises from 90 decibels and above. The safest levels of noise are those at 80 decibels and below which include noises from kitchen appliances, normal conversations and whispering.
Causes of noise-induced hearing loss in children
Exposure to loud noises can damage the hair cells in a child’s inner ear as well as their hearing nerve. This causes a condition known as sensorineural hearing loss or nerve deafness. Sensorineural hearing loss is also caused by other factors. Noise-induced hearing loss can happen right away or slowly over a period of years. It can also be either temporary or permanent.
Children at risk of noise-induced hearing loss
While all children are vulnerable to noise-induced hearing loss, there are others who have certain conditions that make them more susceptible to hearing loss. The children who are most vulnerable to noise-induced hearing loss are those who are constantly exposed to loud appliances such as hair dryers, food processors, blenders and the like. In addition, exposure to recreational activities like rock concerts, snowmobiles and radio-controlled airplanes also pause a great risk.
Symptoms of noise-induced hearing in a child
If your child is suffering from noise-induced hearing loss, then you will notice these symptoms:
- Trouble with hearing which is the main symptom of hearing loss
- Trouble hearing soft or faint sounds
- Normal conversations may sound muffled or unclear
- Ringing or buzzing in the ears
A diagnosis of hearing loss is made after an observation of your child and their ears. Further testing usually involves hearing testing which is usually done by an audiologist or an ENT.
Treating noise-induced hearing loss
Gradual hearing loss can lead to permanent hearing damage. When your child’s hearing nerve is damaged, then the hearing loss is permanent and they can only be treated with:
- Hearing aids to help them hear better
- Cochlear implants which work damaged parts of the inner ear
- Hearing protection to protect a child who has not completely lost their hearing from further hearing hear loss. Protection includes the use of ear plugs or baby earmuffs when loud noise cannot be avoided.
Complications of noise-induced hearing loss in a child
The most serious complication of noise-induced hearing loss is permanent hearing loss. Nevertheless, there are other conditions that can be caused by constant exposure to loud noise. These complications include:
- High blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Upset stomach
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Increased tiredness
- Ringing or buzzing of the ears
You can imagine the difficult time that your child might be having if he or she has any of these conditions just because they were exposed to loud noises.
Hearing loss in a child whether gradual or permanent can actually be prevented by using earplugs or muffs when you know you will be around loud noise. It is also important to be aware of noises in your environment and know which noises are too loud to cause damage. If you are suspecting an issue with your child’s hearing, you should get her checked as soon as possible. You can still take these precautions even if your child has already suffered noise-induced hearing loss. Older kids who want to listen to music in headphones also need protection
Parenting does not mean that you need to give up on doing the things you love. You can still travel, shop and go for festivals and even bring your children with you. However, you must always bring the right protection gear for their ears. Otherwise, you will be setting them up for a problematic life of battling hearing loss.