When Apple introduced its newest version of the iPhone in September, it also came out with a new style of earbuds. The new earbuds—called EarPods—are supposed to be more comfortable in your ears. While design can make a difference in the comfort level, so can the volume at which sound comes through them. But whether your child is using the newest earbuds or an old pair of headphones, listening to a lot of music is one thing that can begin to cause damage to his ears if he is not careful.
The loudness of sound is measured in decibels (dB). Hearing sounds louder than 85 dB for an extended length of time can start to damage your hearing. An mp3 player—like an iPod—at full volume plays music at about 100 dB. Surprisingly enough, that is almost as loud as a concert, which is usually around 110 dB.
This type of damage, which is called noise-induced hearing loss, is permanent and, in almost every case, can be prevented. Unfortunately we are starting to see a disturbing trend: About 12 percent of all children between the ages of 6 and 19 have some level of noise-induced hearing loss.
Earbuds and headphones are certainly not the only cause of noise-induced hearing loss, which happens when hair cells within the inner ear get damaged. Some other higher-risk settings can include:
- Sporting events
- Band class
- Fireworks displays
- Movie theaters
That is not to say you should avoid taking your kids to a game or movie, but use a little caution. Consider giving your child earmuffs or earplugs in noisy environments and limit the amount of time spent in loud areas.
The biggest problem with noise-induced hearing loss is that many times the signs do not appear until later in life. Fortunately, our bodies try to give us some warnings that our ears have had too much, like when we hear a ringing in our ears.
A little bit of protection now can help limit hearing trouble 20 to 30 years from now.