'What?': Why your child may have hearing loss

3:49 PM, Jan 5, 2011   |    comments
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Richardson says hearing loss, in some cases, can occur immediately from loud noises such as gunshots. Too loud of a volume on personal listening devices, though, can also cause hearing loss that is either immediate or gradual.

"If they're listening to it too loud for too long, it could cause permanent hearing loss," Richardson said. "If the music is turned up very loud, [hearing loss] could be fairly quick - within a matter of minutes."

The problem with ear buds are not based on their placement in the ear, Richardson says, but rather the fact that they do not block background noise.

"There are certain earphones that you can purchase that are designed to limit background noise," she said. "Users [of these headphones] tend to turn the volume down or not turn the volume up to compensate for the background noise"

She also advises parents worried about the volume of their child's MP3 player to use devices that limit the volume put out by the music player.

"Some MP3 players have volume-limiting software where you can limit the volume, and there's a volume lock on it," Richardson said.

Research shows that 66 percent of people who use MP3 players are listening to them at a volume over 85 decibels, which Richardson says is far too loud. She suggests a tip called the 80/90 rule.

"You don't' want to listen to an MP3 player at 80 percent volume for more than an hour and a half [90 minutes]."

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, about 4,000 new cases of sudden deafness occur in people of all ages every year. Signs of hearing loss in children can seem like everyday behavior to parents.

"If they ask 'What?' a lot, turning up the TV or music ... and some children need to look at the face to communicate because they're having difficulty hearing," she said.

For more information on hearing loss in young people, Richardson recommends the following websites: www.turnittotheleft.com and www.listentoyourbuds.org.  

The Children's Hospital also does local hearing evaluations. For more information, visit: http://www.thechildrenshospital.org/conditions/speech/danielscenter/index.aspx.  

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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