Contrary to some people's beliefs, hearing loss is not a condition attributed only to the elderly and the natural aging process that slows down or disrupts some body functions. Hearing impairment can be the result of various factors including a genetic condition, birth complications, head traumas or injuries, specific diseases, ototoxic medications, continuous or abrupt loud noises, etc. Many of these causes can appear anytime through a person's life and can affect anyone regardless of age. Unfortunately, sensorineural hearing loss is not reversible or treatable and once incurred people can only learn to manage the condition with the help of various devices such as hearing aids, cochlear implants or in severe cases with sign language and lip reading. That is why it is very important to be well informed about the possible reasons for hearing loss and how to avoid dangerous situations that can compromise hearing.
While adults are expected to make the right choice for themselves when it comes to the protection of hearing, regular checks and hygiene of the ear, children rely on their parents to take care of these issues and rarely realise the hazards of loud music or loud environments or the lack of use of regular earmuffs or earplugs. In many cases, children even refuse to wear hearing protection and then it is the parent's responsibility to convince them or to find alternative ways to cope with the situation and provide the necessary precaution.
There are many products available on the market that are specifically manufactured to help and appeal to young children and teenagers. You can choose earmuffs with fancy colours or prints to attract their attention. It is a good idea to even wear ones along with your child to set an example and show them that it is the normal and right thing to do in a specific environment.
In addition, to the regular protection, education about hearing impairment is vital for your child to recognise the harmful sound levels and to avoid them.
How to prevent noise induced hearing loss
- Do not tolerate environments with very loud sounds/noises, and reset the volume restrictions on your child's iPod or MP3 Player so that it is safe to listen to music.
- Avoid taking your child to noisy places such as concerts, car races, shooting grounds, trains, planes or around heavy machinery without proper ear protection.
- Talk to and explain to your child what hearing loss is and what difficulties it poses for a person's regular life, once incurred.
- Convince your child to wear ear protection with the help of colourful designs and presenting it as a cool accessory.
It is very important to communicate with your children and let them know why protection is needed and what can happen if they refuse to use it. You can ask your GP or ENT specialist for information leaflets or materials especially designed to educate children and help them understand the benefits of intact hearing and the negative consequences of compromising it that are likely to last their entire life.