It’s never too early to educate young people to the importance of healthy hearing habits. The smart listening behaviors you instill in your children will deliver benefits well beyond their teenage and young adult years.
The World Health Organisation estimates that 1.1 million teenagers and young adults have the potential to develop hearing loss from exposure to noise at loud concerts, sporting events and listening on headphones . Overtime, exposure to damaging noise, over 85 decibels, can impair hearing. It’s not uncommon for headphone volume to reach 100 decibels. Rock concerts can register a whopping 120 decibels.
The facts are clear. Exposure to loud noise damages the tiny hair cells in the ear that receive sound. When too many hair cells are damaged, they lose their ability to transmit sound to your brain. New evidence suggests that even subtle hearing loss in young people, the kind that you may not notice, puts demands on the brain that could pave the way for dementia later in life.
Young people are especially susceptible to risky listening practices. Today, many teens wear headphones on a daily basis to listen to music and podcasts or stream movies and video games. Most teens don’t understand the cumulative and permanent impact noise can have on their hearing health. A study by Johns Hopkins University showed a low awareness of noise-induced hearing loss (8 percent) among adolescents and young adults.
Instill Healthy Hearing Habits
You can take steps to help teens and young adults develop a healthy attitude towards managing the impact of a noisy world on their long-term well-being. Encourage smart listening habits that will yield hearing health benefits now and well into the future.
Turn Down the Volume
Who said loud is more fun? Today’s blasting music is tomorrow’s inability to enjoy conversations in restaurants with friends or hear the teacher in a university classroom. Most smartphones have a volume limit that allows you to limit the volume automatically. Best advice is to set volume control at no more than 60 percent of the maximum volume.
Is the person next to you enjoying the music you’re listening to on your headphones? That’s an easy indicator that the volume is turned up too loud.
Don’t turn up the volume to block out noisy surroundings. Choose noise-cancelling headphones that filter outside noise.
Just as it is important to wear two hearing aids, it’s best to wear two earbuds. When you use your headphone on only one side, the sound doesn’t seem as loud and you’re more likely to crank up the volume.
Keep Track of Time
Limit listening time on headphones and take regular breaks to give your ears a rest. The damage from exposure to noise is cumulative. The louder the noise, the less time it takes for damage to occur. Experts recommend the 60/60 rule: Listen through your headphones for no more than 60 minutes at a time at no more than 60 percent of your device’s maximum volume.
Protect Your Ears
A ticket to a concert or sporting event may be costly but protecting your hearing shouldn’t be. A pair of inexpensive foam earplugs or earmuffs can prevent exposure to excessive noise. Ear plugs go into your ears, so they block the canal. Earmuffs fit completely over both ears.
Use your smartphone to help you keep track of decibel levels. Download a volume monitor app and use it when in doubt about noise levels.
Caught unaware as a siren or loud explosion occurs? In an emergency, cover your ears with your hands to block the sound.
Do you want to know more about how you care for your hearing? Read our tips here.
Make Smart Listening a Family Affair
You can model good listening behaviors for your family. Lower the TV volume, turn down the radio and take other steps to keep noise to a minimum in your home. Make family dinners a time for easy conversation, without the background noise of music or kitchen appliances. Bring ear protection along on family outings to sporting events, concerts and movie theaters where sound can be especially loud. Buy quieter appliances, especially frequent use items like hair dryers, and insist all family members use hearing protection when mowing the lawn or using power tools.
Schedule a Hearing Health Check
A regular hearing checkup is an easy, painless but important step to take to protect your family’s hearing health. Schedule hearing evaluations as part of annual health checks. If your child is turning up the volume on TV, frequently misses conversation or complains of ringing or buzzing in the ears, reach out immediately to your hearing care expert for a consultation here .