High Volume Sound has Risk of Lifetime Hearing Loss for Kids

High Volume Sound has Risk of Lifetime Hearing Loss for Kids

Severe hearing loss in babies is more common than you might think, affecting one or two infants in every thousand. It's actually one of the most common birth defects. An unidentified minimal hearing loss is a significant factor in the psychosocial and educational progress of young children, according to multiple research studies conducted over the past 20 years at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.


Since 1980, audiologists began cautioning lovers of loud music about hearing loss that could potentially result from use of their Walkman or portable compact disc (CD) players. The ear buds preferred by music listeners are even more likely to cause hearing loss than the muff-type earphones that were associated with the older devices,” Garstecki said; Northwestern University audiologist and professor. He found that often students were listening at 110 to 120 decibels. Not only are ear buds placed directly into the ear, they can boost the sound signal by as much as six to nine decibels; just the sound made by a vacuum cleaner and the sound of a motorcycle engine.

You might wonder how a hearing-impaired person could see a movie or watch TV. Closed-captioned TV shows and movies provide text at the bottom of the screen, so people with hearing loss can read along to follow the action. So hearing impaired kids can go to school, talk on the phone, and watch a movie.

Recent studies have shown that exposure to harmful noise triggers the formation of molecules inside the ear that can damage or kill hair cells. Exposure occurs in the workplace, in recreational settings, and at home. Recreational activities that can put someone at risk for noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) include target shooting and hunting, snowmobile riding, woodworking and other hobbies, playing in a band, and attending rock concerts. Harmful noises at home may come from lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and shop tools.

Mild to moderate forms of hearing loss can have a lasting impact on the auditory cortex, according to findings by researchers at New York University's Center for Neural Science and may change following a brief period of hearing loss. Children who are stricken with severe hearing loss are five times more likely to contract meningitis. In addition, studies of children with permanent hearing loss indicate that moderate or greater degrees of hearing loss can have significant effects on language, speech, academic, and social emotional development.

Deafness can keep you from hearing sound at all. Causes of hearing loss might be heredity, diseases such as ear infections and meningitis, trauma, certain medicines, long-term exposure to loud noise, aging. There are five broad categories that are typically used. The numbers are representative of the patient's thresholds, or the softest intensity that sounds is perceived:
1. Normal range or no impairment = 0 dB to 20 dB, 2. Mild loss = 20 dB to 40 dB, 3. Moderate loss = 40 dB to 60 dB, 4. Severe loss = 60 dB to 80 dB, 5. Profound loss = 80 dB or more. According to FDA; hearing loss can occur with regular exposure to noise levels of 110 decibels or more for periods longer than one minute. No more than 15 minutes of unprotected exposure to 100 decibels is recommended.

Studio engineers are pushing the envelope on technology that makes recordings sound louder than ever before -- ensnaring listeners in an audio arms race dubbed 'The Loudness Wars'…In the music industry; it has produced a generation of recordings that lacks the subtlety of earlier releases. Some experts also fear that it contributes to long-term hearing loss.

Using an animal model, researchers found that treating the inner ear with leupeptin before exposure to high-level noise, comparable to a jet engine, reduced the loss of sensory hair cells by 60 percent. Hair cells convert sound waves into electrical impulses that are sent to the brain.

This season, keep in mind that many gifts, especially children’s toys, could cause permanent hearing loss. Noise can damage hearing with long-term exposure to sound levels at or above 85 dBA SPL (typical lawnmower loudness). Even brief exposure to very loud sounds can result in permanent hearing loss.

The High School Musical Rockerz Jammin Guitar and the Cheetah Girls In Concert Collection Doll may be what kids want most this holiday season, but if parents aren’t careful about how these and other popular toys are used, a season of joy might turn into a lifetime of hearing loss for their children.

In measuring the loudness of many desired toys, University of California, Irvine researchers warn that many emit sounds at decibel levels high enough to cause permanent hearing damage if not used properly. The researchers tested the loudness of popular toys and found that a number of them reach decibel levels of 100 or more, equivalent to the sound of a power saw, subway train or power mower.

This doesn’t make these toys unsafe, they say.

“All the toys we tested are safe when used as they are designed,” said Jeff Carroll, graduate researcher in biomedical engineering who tested 17 toys. “But kids don’t always use toys as they were designed, and some of their sound levels can be dangerous. So it’s advisable for parents to offer greater guidance for their proper and safe use.”

The High School Musical Rockerz Jammin Guitar, which is recommended for children age 3 and up, topped the list at 106 decibels, followed by the Cheetah Girls In Concert Collection Doll (104 decibels), Hannah Montana In Concert Collection Doll (103 decibels), VTech V.Smile Baby (103 decibels), CAT Motorized Dump Truck (102 decibels) and Tickle Me Elmo (100 decibels). Sound levels were measured approximately one inch from the speaker on each device, much closer than they should be used.

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), prolonged exposure to loud sound can cause permanent hearing damage. For comparison, OSHA notes that it’s safe to listen to a 100 decibel sound for up to two hours a day, while NIOSH recommends less than 10 minutes daily for the same sound.

Because prolonged exposure to high decibel sound is damaging, the researchers say, it’s important to make sure children keep the toy or device at a reasonable distance from their ears. While the toy may emit a 100-plus decibel sound from its speaker, the sound level can drop considerably a few feet away, making the toy safer to use for a longer period of time.

Personal media devices such as iPods and MP3 players also have the potential to inflict lifelong harm. Professor Fan-Gang Zeng, research director in the Department of Otolaryngology, advises parents to help their children understand volume controls on their new devices, because hearing damage is irreversible. A general guideline he suggests: The louder it is, the shorter the time you use it.

“Children are very sensitive to toys and other devices that emit loud and high pitch sounds or that rely on earphones. The hearing loss from noise damage is permanent and currently is not curable,” adds Dr. Hamid Djalilian, an assistant professor of otolaryngology who treats and studies hearing disorders.

Screening for hearing loss is now recommended for all newborns. In children, hearing problems may cause speech to develop slowly. Ear infections are the most common cause of temporary hearing loss in children. Fluid may linger in the ear following an ear infection. Although this fluid can go unnoticed, it can cause significant hearing problems in children.

Inhalant abuse can start in elementary school and continue throughout adolescence. For some kids, inhalants are a cheap and accessible alternative to alcohol. Inhalants are often among the first drugs that young kids use. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the number of new inhalant users reached 1 million in 2002. In 2004, more than 17 percent of American eighth-graders reported abusing inhalants at least once and may lead to loss of feeling, hearing and vision

The site of disease resulting in impaired hearing cannot be stated with certainty, but involvement of the inner ear or auditory nerve was suspected. Some children face special risks for a delayed-onset hearing loss - especially those with a family history of childhood deafness. Other important environmental causes of hearing loss include prematurity, prenatal and postnatal infections, head trauma, subarachnoid hemorrhage, and pharmacologic ototoxicity.

This is really important because hearing-impaired people often have great difficulty understanding speech if they are just listening. Seeing the face and following lip reading cues can help someone understand the intended message. Researchers also found evidence which shows that combined chronic exposure to noise and carbon monoxide in the workplace induces hearing loss.

Long-term exposure to sound from high-speed hand machines may contribute to their high-frequency hearing loss and tinnitus. Many people experience momentary tinnitus, a high-pitched tone that lasts up to 30 seconds. Acute tinnitus, however, can last days or weeks and is most commonly caused by exposure to loud noise such as music at a rock concert, power tools or gunfire. The subsequent ringing indicates damage to the tiny hair-like structures within the inner ear and if exposure to loud noise continues, permanent hearing loss is likely.

The solution, according to Garstecki, is the 60 percent/60 minute rule. He and other hearing specialists recommend using the MP3 devices, including iPods, for no more than about an hour a day and at levels below 60 percent of maximum volume. ”If music listeners are willing to turn the volume down further still and use different headphones, they can increase the amount of time that they can safely listen. Use noise-canceling headphones quiet or eliminate background noise. That means listeners don’t feel the need to crank up the volume so high as to damage their hearing.

There are also noise-activated hearing protectors that allow normal sounds to pass through the ear and only "turn-on" when the noise reaches hazardous levels. There are even protectors that professional concert musicians use that can lower the sound level while retaining sound fidelity. The degree of hearing hazard is related to both the level of the noise as well as to the duration of the exposure. For safety recommendations, it was suggested that using headphones with personal stereo systems (PSS) user limit the volume control to no higher than "6"(out of 10) and limit daily listening to one hour.

Check your surrounding noise situation or listening certain music with high volume whether it is too loud or not. First, if you have to raise your voice to talk to someone who is an arm's length away, then the noise is likely to be hazardous. Second, if your ears are ringing or sounds seem dull or flat after leaving a noisy place, then you probably were exposing to hazardous noise. Standing closer to someone who is speaking or turning up the TV volume, that allow them to perceive the sounds and cues they otherwise would miss. At some point, though, the loss may become so severe that these adjustments become ineffective.

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