Kids Health Matters: Preventing hearing damage

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 01:30PM
Kids Health Matters: Preventing hearing damage. Registered Nurse Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 12:30 p.m. on June 14, 2017.

PHILADELPHIA - Hearing loss isn't just a concern for older people, it's becoming a bigger and bigger reality for teens, and even children. But there are simple steps to prevent the damage.

Lawnmowers, fireworks, concerts and roller coasters are some of the many sounds of summer, but too much of these sounds can harm your hearing.

Audiologist Frank Wartinger at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia says 1 in 6 teenagers has some hearing loss by age 20.

"The level where hearing loss begins is about 85 decibels," said Wartinger.

The risk isn't just from the level of the noise, but the exposure time. Long or repeated exposures destroy tiny hair cells in the inner ear.

"They end up breaking down, they're overworked. And once they stop working, they scar over. And they don't grow back," said Wartinger.

The biggest risk is from concerts, or listening to music too loudly. However, summer jobs, like yard work can also be risky and many teens don't wear ear protection.

"If you were working at a factory at 90 decibels, you would be required to wear hearing protection by your employer," said Wartinger.

Wartinger urges parents to keep kids away from loud noises. For example, keep them indoors during yard work.

And lower the volume wherever possible - including on TV's, tablets, and music.

Make sure your kids use hearing protection such as ear muffs for infants and toddlers, because ear plugs can be choking hazards at that age.

Older children should have foam ear plugs.

Wartinger says it's a misconception that ear plugs ruin an experience.

He says they just take the edge off the volume, the way sunscreen prevents your skin from getting sunburned.

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