Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hearing loss and ear damage

Its that time of year again, the weather gets warmer, everyone is outside grilling, and its time for outdoor summer concerts! I remember being at the Chicago White Sox game a couple of years ago and seeing a very young baby - maybe 2 months old being worn in a carrier sitting just a few rows in front of us. Boy was it loud....did I mention it was fireworks night?  All I could do was sit there and stare, just wishing this beautiful new family would read my mind and cover their daughter's ears.  I was cringing inside at every blast just wondering how many other babies were in the crowd. Fast forward to last years fireworks show in my neighborhood and right in front of the speakers for the band there was another baby being held. I had to back my family quite far away from the band and once again was trying to will my thoughts to the crowd that this can be damaging to little ears. That is when I made up my mind to find ear protection and make it available to parents!

Did you watch the Chicago Black Hawks win the cup? Well, being from Chicago we did! I was so happy to see baby Duncan Kieth with his ears protected on the ice! I can just imagine how loud it was out there and give kudos to mom!

Did you know that more than one-third of all hearing loss is attributed to being exposed to noises such as loud music, loud workplace, and loud recreational events and equipment? Also, once a nerve is damaged, it cannot be restored, it is gone forever.  Because of all these things, people are losing their hearing at much younger ages than they did 30 years ago.

What is Noise Induced Hearing Loss?

Noise induced hearing loss (or NIHL) is exactly that. The loss of hearing that is caused by exposure to loud noises. When exposed to loud noise, the tiny hairs inside the ear (more specifically, the cochlea) are damaged. These hairs can replace themselves if only a minimal amount of damage occurs, however, repeated exposure to loud noises can cause permanent damage.

What Causes NIHL?

Believe it or not, hearing loss can be caused by something as simple as a one time exposure to an intense "impluse" sound such as an explosion (fireworks) or by continuois exposure to loud sounds over a perioud of time. The loudness of sound is measured in units called decibels. The higher the decibel, the more likely the chance of NIHL. For example, a humming refrigitor is 40 decibels, a normal conversation is 60 decibels, and city traffic can be around 85 decibels. Noises that can cause hearing loss include morotcycle, small firearms, loud music and fireworks!! These all emit sounds from 120-150 decibels. Long or repeated exposure to sounds exceeding 85 decibels can cause hearing loss.

As parents, we can help save our children's hearing by providing them with proper ear protection. Below is a table that outlines different noisy activities and the exposure times until hear damage can occur.

Rocket launch
Power tools
15 minutes
2 minutes
2 hours
Personal stereo system on max level
4 minutes
2 minutes
15 seconds
Average Rock concert
2 minutes
2 minutes

Places that you take your child where ear protection should be considered:

  • Professional Games: Hockey, Baseball, Football games
  • Fourth of July Fireworks shows!
  • Concerts
  • Nascar races
  • Outdoor festivals 
  • Holiday Parades

As parents we all do the best that we can. If you don't have any ear protection and are planning to attend a loud event, there are still some things that you can do to protect your little one:

  • Don't sit near the band or in the direction of the speakers. Instead, sit farther back and let the crowd help be your buffer. 
  • If you have nothing else, use your hands to cover your child's ears.
  •  Keep a pair of ear plugs in your purse to use at a moments notice.

Em's for kids are available at Cutie Poops and Bottoms and come specifically for infants (with an adjustable headband) or for toddlers and kids. Click here to order yours, or enter below to win a pair! 

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