Why Protecting Your Child’s Hearing Is So Important

Jan van der Borden, ENT specialist at the BovenIJ Hospital in Amsterdam, covered it perfectly when he stated that protecting our children’s hearing is so important because their ears have to last a lifetime!

Our babies and toddlers’ ears are extremely vulnerable, and ENT specialists are continuously warning parents of the ever-growing number of young children who suffer damage to their hearing as a result of attending loud noise events like sports games, parties, parades, cinemas, fireworks, concerts, construction sites, and so on. Parents are often unaware of this problem and sometimes unwittingly subject their children to noises way too loud for their tender ears. The unfortunate result can be permanent hearing damage to a very young child.

Children’s Ears are Constantly Exposed to Loud Noises

Everyday young children are exposed to a great deal of sound; whether it be in crowds, the honking of car horns, sirens, and so on. Even in your home there is the television, the radio, kitchen appliances, and the vacuum cleaner, all producing noise that can cause hearing loss in small children. Interestingly, research shows that many children’s toys are responsible for hearing loss in small children, and some toys were found to reach noise levels of over 100 db. Children naturally love toys that make noise, and they instinctively move these toys close to their ears.

The statistics of permanent hearing damage in children are staggering, with 1 in every 8 children being affected. Most parents are not aware that they are exposing their children to such loud noises, and that immediate hearing damage can be caused by noise with a volume over 110 db. Electric tools exceed this limit, and the noise from fireworks can reach a whopping 150 db. The World Health Organization said that the most common cause of hearing damage is exposure to loud noise. Other points to remember are –

  • Sleeping problems and stress in young children can be caused by excessive noise;
  • Up to 95% of children will suffer from an ear infection;
  • Overstimulation at school caused by noise creates concentration problems and underperformance in children.

Why Our Children’s Ears Are so Delicate

The reason our baby’s ears are so delicate, or vulnerable, is because while their head is still growing, the cochlea, the most vulnerable part of a baby’s ear, is located near the outside of the ear. And we as parents unwittingly expose our children to noises that we ourselves are accustomed to, but our baby’s ears are not. Our children’s ears have more sensory cells, or hair cells, and they still face a lifetime of noise exposure; thus leaving them open to more damage.

The Solution

In order to protect your baby or small child’s ears we strongly suggest you purchase ear muffs, also known as ear defenders for kids. Earplugs can also be used, and they can certainly reduce noise considerably, however, young children typically do not tolerate ear plugs and they can often be difficult to fit correctly. Keep in mind, also, that nothing should ever be placed in a young child’s ear. Ear defenders are a great solution because they’re comfortable to wear and they reduce damaging noise. Ear defenders should cover the child’s ear completely, with no hair between the earmuffs and the ear.

How Do I Know What Type of Ear Defenders to Buy?

The ear protection you purchase for your baby or child should have an SNR (Single Number Rating). SNR equates to the number of dB reduced. Let’s say you have ear defenders that are SNR 25 and you are in an environment of 90 dB, the noise will be reduced to approximately 65 db.

Ear Protection Is Not Just for Children

Of course, adults too should always consider their own ear protection. We understand that the decibel rating at a race track can easily exceed 125 dB, which is damaging to anyone’s ears. It is recommended that anyone in a situation where the noise exceeds 90 dB for any length of time should wear ear protection, because exposing your ears to long bursts of loud noise is not safe for anyone of any age. The amount of time exposed to loud noise is very critical, with the overriding factors being both the intensity and duration of the sound reaching the ears. Discos often have a frequency reaching and exceeding 95 dB, but because the sound level is continuous over a period of time the ears have no chance to recover.

The Many Benefits of Ear Defenders

While we now know that protecting our ears with ear defenders can prevent hearing damage, earmuffs also have other uses. Ear defenders for baby can be mother’s best friend, because they offer a peaceful environment and undisturbed sleep for baby in noisy situations. Many parents use earplugs and ear defenders for older children to help their concentration while reading or studying, both at school and at home. And earmuffs offer great comfort to children who suffer from overstimulation.

Ear Protection For Children – Our Recommendations

Peltor is the market leader when it comes to ear defenders, and we recommend Peltor Kid Ear Defenders with an SNR of 27 for young children. Peltor Ear Defenders come in neon green and pink, and feedback from our customers is that their children tolerate them very well. Regardless of how good the protection may be, if the children find something uncomfortable, they won’t wear it. So, try the Peltor Kid Ear Defenders and please let us know how your child adapts to this ear protection.

While keeping in mind our previous comment about earplugs for children, there are a range of earplugs available for children. Offering a 29 dB reduction, Macks Slim Fit Earplugs are the perfect, junior soft foam earplugs can be purchased for £3.99 (10 pairs).

For teenagers who love loud music, we suggest trying the Alpine MusicSafe Pro earplugs, which sell for £14.99. The filters on these adult earplugs range from low to high protection. Alternatively, you might choose to try Macks Hear Plugs are high fidelity adult ear plugs which reduce noise level whilst still producing clear sound.

Photo Credit: “Infant Eats Banana in Silence” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by mikecogh

Zoom Health is a leading UK supplier of Earplugs.

This post was originally published in February 2019.

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