As the world has aged, it has gotten noisier. That has produced a lot of people with hearing loss in varying degrees. Who suffers most?
It seems that the people who suffer the most from noise are children. Why is this true?
Let’s look at noise from two standpoints.
The first view comes from the city and the second view comes from the country.
Sound is measured in decibels. On the decibel scale if a decibel is five higher on the scale the sound is five times louder.
The example given in your reference material is that if a whisper is 30 decibels then a normal conversation is 60 decibels.
At risk in people are threads in their ears called ear cells that are actually straight hairs in the ear that reflect sound.
The problem is that if a person has some loss of hearing from damage to ear cells they may not even know. Worse yet, ear cells cannot rejuvenate.
Of course city sounds include sirens, construction sounds, motorcycles, loud cars, concerts, sports events and television to name just a few issues of contention.
It is hard to believe that rural hearing loss may even be worse but it may be because of farm sounds including tractors and other farm equipment.
As I said though, young people, teenagers that is, seem to be the most at risk. That is because they are willing to forego their hearing hygiene for loud music.
61 percent of teens have experienced hearing problems but only about 14 percent wear protective ear devices. Also they seem in no hurry to correct or even report the problems.
One of the most common ear problems is tinnitus which is a ringing in the ears after listening to loud music.
We must always consider peer pressure when teens don’t wear protection.
What can we do?
The best thing that we can do is to teach our kids when they are at their “tween” stage to protect their ears. This will allow them to develop good ear protection hygiene.
The “tween” years are from about eightto twelve-years-old and it is right at the age when kids are starting to really make decisions with respect to sound.
If you stop and think about it that is when we target telling them about the dangers of smoking.
The idea with something like hearing care is to stop poor practices before they start.
If a person loses their hearing, or part of their hearing from ear cell damage, it is a lifetime problem, they will be faced all their life with trying to cope with it.
Is your child at risk? Are you at risk?
“Hey Parents: It’s a Noisy Planet,” Fact Sheet, NIH News in Health, October 2008, Page One