Hearing loss impacts a child’s capacity for developing speech, language, and social skills. It is vital to identify and treat hearing loss in children early so they may reach their full potential. Hearing damage in children is often the result of repeated exposure to loud noises. Unfortunately, this preventable problem affects an estimated one in six children by the conclusion of their teenage years. However, some measures will help protect your child’s hearing:
Teach respect for hearing. The more a child appreciates their hearing, the higher the chances that they will respect and protect their hearing. Try asking a child to identify their favorite sounds and then ask them about their feelings if they no longer could hear those sounds.
Recognize dangerously loud sounds. Try a password protected sound-level meter app. A sound-level meter will allow you to set volume limits on your child’s listening devices.
Time limits. Loud environmental noise affects hearing over time. A reduction in the amount of time spent listening to loud sounds will decrease the risk of hearing damage in a child.
Listening rules. Try the 80/90 rule for listening. Keep device volumes under 80 percent while limiting the listening time per day to 90 minutes or less. The arm’s length rule is also useful. If your child can’t hear someone speaking from an arm’s length away, their music volume is too high.
The purpose of a hearing protector is to limit the level of sound. It is essential to understand that hearing protectors do not eliminate all noise, but they do lower the volume. A child should use hearing protectors for exposure to noises that are too loud or last too long. Hearing protectors include the use of earplugs and earmuffs.
Earplugs are available as either soft foam or hard plastic inserts designed to be placed directly into the ear canal. They are generally inexpensive and can be disposable or reusable. They are easy to carry in a purse or pocket. Getting a proper fit from earplugs is vital.
An earmuff resembles a wireless headphone. These devices fit snugly over the ear to protect a child’s hearing. Although earmuffs are more expensive than earplugs, they are more comfortable for children to put on correctly without the worry of them sliding out.
If hearing protection is not available, instruct your child to cover their ears with their hands when exposed to loud noises. Lowering the volume or moving away from the source are also options.
Take steps today to protect your child’s hearing. If you suspect that they may have a hearing loss, do not delay in getting help as it will affect the child’s speech, language, and social development. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider who may perform a simple hearing screening or recommend a hearing evaluation with a hearing healthcare professional. A child’s ability to hear is precious, and the sooner action is taken to care for a child’s hearing the better.