Our environment is getting louder and louder and that includes schools. Each year you should take the time to get a hearing evaluation for your child at Hearing Group. Tests are free, non-invasive and we strive to be child friendly. Getting a baseline hearing level for your child ensures that you will be able to keep tabs on his or her hearing health throughout the school years.
Schools have more noise issues than you may think. There are crowded loud hallways, sporting events and band practice and all these things can have noise decibel ratings over the safe limit of 85. Repeated exposure to noisy environments can result in hearing loss, according to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders.
Noise induced hearing loss is preventable, but 5 million children in the United States suffer from this condition and more are diagnosed each year.
The first step towards preventing noise induced hearing loss is discussing the importance of hearing and hearing safety with your child. Explain to them how sound processing works in the ear and stress that those tiny hair cells that help with processing are not renewable. And now would be a good time to give them a little refresher chat about not sticking things in their ears like pen cap ends or a stylus if their ears itch.
How about the bus ride?
Kids use the bus and other down time to listen to music or play games on portable electronic devices. It is very tempting for them to keep hiking up the volume, so it can be heard over the noise of the bus and the other children. If your child is using headphones with their device talk to them about acceptable volume levels. Better yet, get headphones that are volume limiting.
Marching band, orchestra – maybe the brass ensemble – all great activities for children. But long and frequent exposure to loud music can lead to noise induced hearing loss. Drums and instruments such as tubas and trumpets can damage the hearing of those playing them as well as those near them. If your child is in band, talk to t he music teacher about protecting your child’s ears during rehearsals.
There are special ear plugs called musician’s ear plugs or high fidelity ear plugs that are available, so your child will still be able to hear the instruments clearly, but at a softer level.
You can always talk to the staff at Hearing Group about custom ear protection for use at musical rehearsals or if your child is a hunter or involved in shooting sports.
While your child is on the playground he or she may be exposed to excessive noise. There’s traffic, sirens, train whistles and nearby construction that may be near the area. Visit the playground during recess to hear what might be around for yourself. Teachers working on the playground may be so used to background noise, they don’t realize it is there.
If you have concerns, bring them up to school administration. Tell your children if there is noise outside that hurts their ears, they should move away from the noise source.
On the sports field
Team sports are great, they promote teamwork and fitness. Any school-run sports program should have a full compliment of protection for your child, including ear protection. Baseball and softball players should wear helmets to protect their ears and temples and wrestlers should have ear guards.
Swimmers should protect their ears with ear plugs. If your child wears a hearing device, they should either be removed or protected with custom ear protection that the Hearing Group can discuss with you.
Invest in ear plugs
Ear plugs are small and fit nicely into a backpack or purse. They are certainly less expensive and a lot more portable than noise-cancelling head phones or ear muffs. Some come with a neck strap, so your child can’t lose them if they come out. Make sure they know how to insert them properly.
Foam ear plugs should be rolled and inserted snuggly into the ear canal. The squished plug puffs back up and fills the area.
Be a good role model
It’s a lot easier to get your child to take a hearing test if you tell him or her you also take a test every year.
Wear ear protection if you are mowing the lawn or using loud power tools like a chainsaw or power nailer or drill. Keep the volume of the television and the stereo at a normal level and keep the radio in the car at a decent volume level, too.