Teens Hearing & Noise Levels

Men wearing ear defendersDid you know that May is Better Speech & Hearing Month? A child’s hearing is delicate and very important. “According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, one in five adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 shows a hearing loss.”

Such hearing loss could possibly be due to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) a loss resulting from earbuds or headphones at unsafe volumes. Fortunately NIHL is preventable if you use protective head gear. The challenge comes in getting younger children and even teens to use the gear every time they want to listen to music.

A large variety of volume-limiting headphones and earbuds have been created to help ensure that listening is safe for children and teens. Samples of ear gear that tops out at 85 dB, a safe level of listening, offering safety includes Califone SoundAlert Headphones ($86), Griffin Technology Crayola MyPhones ($25), Kidz Gear KidzControl ($20-30), and the SMS Audio KidzSafe line of D.I.Y. Earbuds ($20) or D.I.Y Headphones ($30).

In 2010 children’s hearing protection gear seemed to go worldwide when the 1-year old son of pro football player Drew Brees was shown wearing Peltor earmuffs after Brees and the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl. Noise protection products usually list a noise reduction rating (NRR), and used properly, a product with an NRR 12 can offer a 20dB reduction. How is the NRR obtained you may ask? A standard formula measuring the potential of achievable protection is used as a guideline on decibel reduction.

Earplugs for older, more responsible children are important when they attend concerts or sporting events. They may not be in agreement but models with flanges will limit volume, but still give music and speech a clear sound. They basically have a lower NRR than earplugs made out of foam or silicone. You should also look for earplugs with flatter attenuation. This will equally reduce the sound.

“Most earplugs reduce high frequencies more than low, resulting in a muffled sound quality,”  says Joscelyn Martin, Au.D., an instructor in audiology at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Parents should also lead by example and use earplugs to mow the lawn, watch sporting events and during other loud, noisy events. Earplugs range in price from $9 to $30, yet they all provide hearing protection when properly fitted.

Written by: Jamacia Magee, FizzNiche Staff Writer

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