Children's Headphones May Carry Risk of Hearing Loss
These days even 3-year-old’s wear earphones. Almost all of the brands claim to “be safe to young ears”. Headphones or earbuds can be safe for a child depending on a combination of volume, listening duration, and the size of the ear canal. One song played at high volume will not likely damage a child’s hearing but prolonged listening at high volumes can damage hearing over time.
There is no research that shows how young is too young for headphones or earbuds. We do know that the younger the child, the smaller the ear canals, which means the same sound level in a young child’s ear will be louder than in a bigger child or that of an adult’s ear. Parents who are concerned about their child’s exposure to noise can set restrictions to limit the maximum volume on most of the devices that are available.
The World Health Organization estimates more than 1 billion young people are in danger of hearing loss from portable audio devices, including smart phones. Anyone who uses headphones for more than 90 minutes each day could be jeopardizing their hearing. In this modern world many of us are wearing headphones all day, every day. Experts fear our constant exposure to audio played straight into our ears could be creating a prematurely deaf generation.
It is great for children and adults alike to lose themselves in their favorite music, a great podcast or audiobook. But jeopardizing one of our most important senses – hearing – as we navigate the world may not be worth it. Listening to music with a single earbud and keeping one ear free of any distracting noise can be helpful. Remember, do not use earbuds or headphones while walking, biking or driving. Enjoy your surroundings. And be alert to all that is around you. Consider a “noise diet” for your children at times. As important as sunscreen is to our skin, hearing protection is to our ears. Sustained loud noise will ultimately result in hearing loss. This is not repairable with any of our current technology. And sudden loud noises are even worse given that we do not have a protective mechanisms in our middle ear to blunt the noise acutely. Setting good habits at a young age on hearing protection/limiting sustained noise exposure… will pay dividends for future generations.
Dr. Robert Dean
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Urgent Specialists is a full-service urgent care, offering a higher level of service, backed up by Specialists in Orthopedics, Ophthalmology, and Ear, Nose and Throat, among other Specialties.