Facts About Hearing Loss

Different people have different tolerance levels of noise. It is largely subjective. Perhaps you have noticed that other people’s children often seem noisier than your own. But no matter what the source of the noise is, if you are exposed to a loud sound long enough, hearing may be lost.
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If you find yourself nearly shouting in order to make yourself heard by a listener a few feet away, then the sound is too loud.  Another danger sign is hearing some ringing in your ears or a muffled hearing ability a few hours after you have left a noisy environment.
Some early warning signs of hearing loss include ringing in the ears after a noisy activity, having difficulty of understanding what people say, especially distinguishing among words that contain high-frequency sounds like S or soft C, F, SH, or H; turning up the volume to hear the radio or television; and failing to hear a ringing telephone or doorbell.
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Although many people don’t notice their nose-induced hearing loss until later in life, there is evidence that the process begins much earlier.  Recent studies show an alarming increase in hearing loss among young people.  A survey of U.S. school children showed 15 percent had detectable hearing loss.  High-frequency loss—the kinds most often linked to noise—was the most common.  In fact, damaging exposure can start before birth.  Maternal noise exposure during pregnancy is linked to impaired hearing loss in small children.  Numerous studies confirm the damaging effects of noisy hospital conditions on newborns as well.

If you can hear music coming from your child’s earphones, they are at risk.  Toys, too, can be powerful sources of noise.  When held directly against the ear, a rattle, talking doll, or toy telephone can expose the child to noise as loud as 120 dB—the level of a plane revving for take-off.

Young and middle-aged women are more at risk for noise-induced hearing loss than ever before.  In the past, occupational noise was the major culprit and women had fewer jobs that threaten hearing, such as factory and construction positions.  Today, personal habits such as listening to loud music and the noisy soundscapes of our modern world put women equally at risk.  It is estimated that turning down the volume could prevent 20 percent of hearing loss in female students.

© 2010 Athena Goodlight

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