If you look closely enough, you might see the Mass. Eye and Ear logo during the Super Bowl on Sunday night.
For their third trip in the last 5 years, the Patriots’ kids will be wearing hearing protection provided by Michael S. Cohen, M.D., Director of the Multidisciplinary Pediatric Hearing Loss Clinic at Mass. Eye and Ear, during the game.
In an age where sporting events, concerts and even spin classes can put our hearing at risk, ear plugs and other forms of hearing protection have become increasingly important.
This has become a growing concern particularly for children and young adults.
While not all noise is harmful, it is important to understand the risks associated with too much loud noise, and to consider taking preventative measures to help decrease the risk of overexposure to loud sounds.
We sat down with Dr. Cohen, who shared his tips for protecting your child’s hearing.
1) Encourage hearing protection in noisy environments.
Just like at the Super Bowl, when attending any event with a potential for prolonged noise exposure, your child should be wearing hearing protection. Foam earplugs or decibel-lowering earmuffs can help protect the ears from noise damage while still giving your child the ability to hear. When attending an exceptionally noisy event, consider having your child wear both for increased protection.
2) Set volume limits on your devices.
Most cell phones, tablets, computers, gaming systems and televisions have settings that will restrict that device from going above a certain volume level. To ensure your devices are set at a safe noise level, Dr. Cohen recommends setting the volume to no higher than 70 percent of the maximum volume.
3) Invest in quality headphones.
While many prefer to use ear buds, Dr. Cohen recommends investing in quality over-the-ear headphones instead. Not only are they more comfortable for children, but they also have a clearer sound, which eliminates the need for high volumes. You can also purchase headphones that do not play sound louder than what is considered ‘safe’ for your ears.
4) Pay attention to activities.
Being aware of your child’s activities is a good way to monitor their noise exposure (i.e., keep an eye on the amount of time they are playing video games or practicing the drums). Overall, helping them to avoid loud noises is one of the best things you can do, but if exposure is inevitable, knowing their activities will help you encourage good behavior.
5) Set a good example.
By taking care of your own ears, your child will learn the importance of protecting their ears. When attending an event, wear earplugs or earmuff-style hearing protection yourself. Not only will that make your child less resistant to wearing hearing protection, but you will also be protecting your own hearing as well, which is just as important.
Noise-induced hearing loss is preventable. Your child may not recognize dangerous exposures or be able to control their environment, but you can. Take steps to protect your child’s hearing now and help them grow up with healthy hearing later.
And go Pats!