Do you or your child listen to music with headphones often? Worried that this source of entertainment can affect your hearing? Well, then here is some valuable information you should know.
By Sarika Chuni
From the 5kg earpieces that rested on the shoulders of the telephone operators in the 1880s, to the super-light wireless earpods of today, headphones have sure come a long way.
As the world around us gets increasingly noisy with its never-ending traffic, construction sites, crowded public spaces and the general chaos of a bustling city, headphones keep evolving to help us drown out those unpleasant noises. We can listen to our favourite songs instead, that transport us to another world!
Further, kids and teenagers use headphones and earphones excessively nowadays, to listen to their trendy music or movies and TV shows, and even play loud video games. But, is this safe and can too much of loudness result in hearing damage?
Well, in 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a press statement warning that 1.1 billion young adults are at risk of permanent hearing loss due to unsafe levels of sound from their personal devices. And hearing loss can have devastating consequences on your child’s health, mental wellness, education, work and overall quality of life.
Exposure to noise levels that are over 85 decibels, for eight hours continuously is highly unsafe for your ears and hearing. And noise levels of 100 decibels shouldn’t be endured for more than 15 minutes. What’s alarming is that an MP3 player belting out a tune at maximum volume through the earbuds can touch 105 decibels. This is potentially harmful to you and your child.
Here are some common signs that indicate the sound levels are high on your earphone:
The cochlea is a part of the inner ear that looks like a snail shell. It contains fragile hair cells that turn sound vibrations into sound messages and send them to the brain. Loud sounds, over a prolonged period, damage these hair cells and consequently the cochlea is unable to relay the sound messages to the brain. Unlike other parts of the body, damage to the cochlea never heals.
Hearing loss can be short term(transient) or long term(permanent).
In short term, a person loses the ability to hear for some time but recovers automatically after a few hours with or without medication; and in long term, a person permanently loses his hearing ability.
Here are a few tips for you and your family to help prevent hearing loss from headphones usage:
As a parent, you may not always be around to make sure your child follows the above-mentioned rules. But here are a few steps you must take:
Hearing loss can cause significant issues with your child’s cognitive development. If you suspect that your child has hearing loss, it is important to seek the advice of a qualified otologist/hearing healthcare professional immediately. Hearing tests are simple, painless and available widely.
The treatment for hearing loss in children varies according to the severity of the symptoms. As with any other illness, the earlier one identifies it, the better.
Following are some lines of treatment recommended by doctors for hearing loss:
So, at the end of the day, you should approach noise in the same manner as you might approach junk food, alcohol or sun exposure. Set some ground rules for yourself and your child and follow them judiciously. Be an example for your child to follow. Also, should you suspect a hearing problem in your child, get it checked up by an ENT specialist immediately.
With inputs from Dr Khaja Naseeruddin, Professor & HOD of ENT, Hamdard Institute of Medical Sciences & Research
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