Recently the World Health Organization (WHO) released alarming research indicating that the amount of children and teenagers with noise induced hearing loss in the United States is increasing at a high rate. Noise induced hearing loss is completely preventable but once it occurs it is not reversible. Audiologist Tracey Ambrose explains hearing loss and how to make listening safe for children and teens.
What is noise induced hearing loss?
Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a decrease in hearing sensitivity, typically starting at a certain range of pitches, caused by prolonged or excessive exposure to loud sounds.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated in 2013 that 12.5 percent of children and adolescents aged 6–19 years (approximately 5.2 million) and 17 percent of adults aged 20–69 years (approximately 26 million) have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from excessive exposure to noise.
How can you prevent noise induced hearing loss?
Education is our best defense to combat this epidemic. As part of their new campaign, WHO is encouraging children to Make Listening Safe by following these steps:
- Keep the volume down
- Use earplugs in noisy environments
- Move away from loud noise source when possible
- Limit your daily use of personal audio devices with headphones
- Get annual hearing testing
What are signs that you are exposed to loud noise?
- You have to raise your voice to be understood by someone standing nearby.
- The noise hurts your ears.
- You develop a buzzing or ringing sound in your ears, even temporarily.
- You don't hear as well as you normally do until several hours after you get away from the noise.
Can hearing loss be reversed?
The effects of hearing loss can be devastating to children. Hearing loss can impact a child’s development and academic success and may lead to social isolation and depression.
Remember that Noise-Induced- Hearing loss is IRREVERSIBLE but completely PREVENTABLE: Heed the warning signs that damage has already started…
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Difficulty hearing high pitched sounds
- Problems understanding on the telephone
- Straining to follow conversations in noisy venues
We recommend that you follow-up with an audiologist immediately if you are having any warning signs and obtain regular hearing evaluations to monitor your hearing health.