Being a parent is surprisingly busy at times, especially when you have more than one. Between multiple schools, athletic events, after school projects, community concerts, and parades, there is barely a time to catch your breath. On top of all of this, it’s important to be ever vigilant of any risks to your children that may be present. Surprisingly one thing which is important to monitor is your children’s exposure to sound. Noise induced hearing loss is one of the most common types of hearing loss for people of all ages. Children are even more susceptible to noise, due to the smaller nature of developing ear canals. It’s important to understand the severity of this risk – even a slight damage from noise to your child’s ear can affect everything from daily conversations, ability to follow along in the classroom, language acquisition and how they process music
How loud is too loud?
The volume or loudness of sound is measured in decibels (dBA). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), reports that5 hearing damage can occur when you’re exposed to sounds louder than the “safe noise level” of 70 decibels for over 24 hours. This can cause your body to release cortisol – the body’s fight or flight hormone. It is also known as the stress hormone. When cortisol is constantly released in the body, it can cause sleep issues, depression, and inability to focus during the day. This means that if you live near a significant source of noise such as street traffic, or even a near by neighbor’s blasting music, it can be contributing to damage to the ears of everyone in the family. It’s a safe bet to invest in carpeting, house plants, and curtains over windows which can help absorb sound to minimize its environmental effects.
The other limit put to sound is the threshold of 85dBA. At this level, it takes 8 hours of constant exposure for hearing to be impacted. As the decibels rise, the time it takes for damage to occur drastically shrinks. At 95dBA, it takes less than an hour, and at 110dBA it can take under 15 minuets. It’s important to monitor your children’s listening levels as it could impact their ability to learn almost immediately when hearing loss is the outcome.
Sources of Noise Exposure
As parents many of us are still navigating what it means to be in larger group settings after years of an unpredictable pandemic. When we are in larger group settings consider that sound is compounded as well. A normal conversation is around 40-60dBA. However, as more and more conversations occur in a space, the decibel level rises. When a classroom is at full cacophony, it can reach very loud decibel levels.
A stadium for your child’s sporting event could reach 115 decibels and in just 28 seconds, is loud enough to contribute to irreversible hearing loss. Here is a rough guide to help you put in perspective exposure to noise:
|Quite music||30 decibels|
|Home vacuum cleaner||75 decibels|
|Heavy traffic||80-90 decibels|
|Sporting and live music events||120-130 decibels|
|Emergency sirens and fireworks||140+ decibels|
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) explains a clear way to know if yours and your child’s hearing is at risk: If you must raise your voice to be heard, or you can’t hear or understand someone three feet away from you there is a risk to the hearing of everyone present.
What can I do to prevent early hearing loss?
As a parent, you most likely already know that you can’t ever be too prepared. You can’t always know when you’ll be in a noisy setting. Add protective earmuffs or noise-cancelling headphones to your out and about bag for everyone in the family. If you model safe listening habits, then hopefully your children will be more motivated as well.
It’s also a good idea to be aware of how loud you are in relation to a noise. The further away you can stand from the source, the quieter the sound will be and make sure to limit the length of exposure. Thirty minutes at a loud event may let everyone have fun and still leave with hearing intact.
Test your child’s hearing
If you suspect that your child is struggling to hear, don’t delay in contacting us to test their hearing. We can understand the extent of a hearing loss and help you come up with a comprehensive plan to address the loss.