The effects of noise on children

Hearing is easy to take for granted. Many people are born and grow up without ever experiencing compromised hearing. But that does not mean people, including children, don’t routinely engage in activities that could adversely affect their hearing.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, children are no strangers to recreational activities that can harm their hearing. Children who attend sporting events, musical concerts and even holiday celebrations like fireworks shows may be at risk of losing their hearing. Parents who are careful and cognizant of the many ways noise poses a threat to children, potentially affecting both their physical and psychological health, can put themselves in better position to protect their youngsters from noise-related damage.

What is noise?
The EPA defines noise as any unwanted or disagreeable sound. Noise is sound that can become harmful and interfere with a child’s normal activities. For example, noise can interfere with a child’s ability to sleep and diminish youngsters’ quality of life.

How common are hearing problems among children?
Hearing problems in children may be more common than some parents recognize. The American Academy of Otolaryngology reports that three million children under the age of 18 have some kind of hearing difficulty.

How does noise threaten children?
The EPA notes that noise can affect kids in some surprising ways.

• Noise can affect kids’ development. Repeated exposure to noise during certain developmental periods can affect a child’s ability to acquire language-related skills like reading and listening. In addition, noisy environments, such as noisy homes, can make it hard for children to learn.

• Noise can affect the cardiovascular system. The EPA reports that children who are chronically exposed to loud noise may suffer from elevated blood pressure and other cardiovascular ailments.

How can parents protect kids from noise?
Though noise can affect youngsters’ overall health, the experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine note that parents can try various strategies to prevent noise-induced hearing loss.

• Wear earplugs or ear muffs when around loud noise. Earplugs fit into the outer ear and ear muffs fit over the entire outside of the ear. The EPA advises parents to ensure that children wear child-sized earplugs or ear muffs when engaging in or being around noisy activities or events.

• Reduce the amount of time spent on noisy activities.

• Teach kids to walk away from sources of loud noises. Children should be instructed to stand far back from the stage and away from amplifiers when attending concerts. Failure to do so can contribute to tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing sound in the ear that is associated with hearing loss.

Noise induced hearing loss is preventable. Recognizing the threat noise poses to youngsters’ health is a great first step for parents.

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