How to Protect Your Child’s Hearing in a Noisy World


childs hearingThe modern world seems to be increasingly full of threats to children. From seemingly mundane crib recalls to the horrors of violence in schools, parents must work to protect their kids from dangers that were unheard of just a generation ago.

Hearing is yet one more vulnerability that until recent times faced little peril, but the chronic noise in our cities, the ubiquity of personal headphone use and the ear-damaging potential of some medication has made preserving good hearing something no parent can ignore.

When Is It Too Loud?

One of the most valuable ways a parent or caregiver can aid their children is to know when a situation or event is too loud. From parties and amusement parks to concerts and fairs, it’s hard to know when decibel levels are safe. While you can turn to an app to measure how loud something is, an easier way is to notice when the following happens:

  • In order to be heard within conversation range, you have to raise your voice.
  • It’s hard to hear someone who is within arm’s reach.
  • Your ears ring, buzz or experience pain during or after an event.
  • Normal speech sounds muted or dulled after an event.

If any of these situations arise, the noise level is too loud, and you should take your children away or provide adequate hearing protection. If you realize after the fact that an event or situation was too loud for your child, it may be worthwhile to seek out a hearing specialist like those at to see if any permanent damage occurred.

Avoid Noisy Toys, Appliances, Machines, Etc.

Noise is a daily occurrence in most households, but it doesn’t have to be. Choosing not to purchase or choosing to get rid of noisy toys, appliances, vehicle engines, machines, power tools and the like will help protect you and your children from the strain that chronic noise can take over time. Also, becoming more accustomed to a quieter environment will help you notice loud situations more quickly than if you and your brood are always inundated with noise.

Educate Your Child

Good parents know that educating their children is an essential part of their role, and enlightening your children about noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) should be considered as important to their safety and well-being as educating them about fire safety. To that end, make sure you are educated about NIHL:

  • NIHL can be immediate or occur over time.
  • NIHL can be permanent or temporary.
  • Harmful noise can be sudden or chronic.
  • Taking the subway regularly and working on a construction site can both lead to NIHL.
  • Ears must be protected in order to safely guard against NIHL.

Personal Headphones

One of the biggest threats to ears is the prevalence and near-ubiquitous use of personal MP3 players and the headphones or ear buds that accompany them. The ability to listen to your own music without subjecting those around you to it has made many homes, car rides, school bus rides and waiting rooms more pleasant, but there is a downside.

The volume and frequency range within your child’s headphones may simply be too loud, and over time, it can and will do damage. If you can hear your child’s music while he is listening to it on headphones, it’s too loud, and he needs to turn it down, but that isn’t the only tell. It’s also wise to periodically put the headphone up to your own ears at the volume at which your child is listening to see if you experience it as too loud. As with all things where your child is exercising personal responsibility, make sure you properly educate him regarding the risks he runs with listening to headphones or ear buds at too high a volume.

The Dangers of Ototoxic Drugs

Ototoxic drugs are any medication that can damage the ear and lead to problems with hearing, balance, ringing in the ears, speech and more. Over 200 medications and chemicals are known to be ototoxic, and anyone who takes these drugs is at risk of damaging their ears. Certain antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs and even aspirin are ototoxic. Whenever your child needs medication, talk to her doctor about your concerns. If your child does have to take an ototoxic medication, schedule periodic hearing tests while she is on it to ensure her hearing is alright.

Keeping your kids’ ears safe can be a full-time job depending on where you live and how much time you have, but it’s a job well-worth doing. Give your child a solid chance at an entire lifetime of conversation, music, thunderstorms and birdsong.

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