Hearing Protection for You and Your Family

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photo credit: Nick V.

Have you ever seen one of these signs and wondered if hearing protection was really necessary? Or have you thought hearing protection might only be an issue that adults who are aging need to deal with?

Richmondmom sat down with Dr. Jessica Poe, audiologist for Virginia Ear, Nose & Throat, to learn more about hearing protection and why it is important for you and your family.

Rmom: “What are the leading causes of preventable hearing loss?”

Dr. Poe: “One of the leading causes of preventable hearing loss is not wearing appropriate hearing protection. If you or your child are going to be around loud noise, using foam earplugs or over the ear hearing protection is a great idea. Concerts, NASCAR races, gun ranges, etc., are all fun recreational activities that are loud! While enjoying these activities, it is important to take care of your hearing.”

Bryor Mays, age 3, wearing hearing protection at RVA's Monster Jam. Photo Credit: William Mays
Bryor Mays, age 3, wearing hearing protection at RVA’s Monster Jam. Photo Credit: William Mays

Rmom: “What strategies can parents and children use to protect themselves?”

Dr. Poe: “Hearing protection! There are products on the market that are made to limit volume output. Kid Safe earbuds or headphones that have a volume limit can assure parents that if their children are listening to music or movies through them that the volume will never reach an unsafe limit.”

Rmom: “At what age do you recommend hearing protection begin?”

Dr. Poe: “Hearing should be protected as soon as possible. Noise is all around us and if it reaches an unsafe limit, it can begin to wear down the sensitivity of our hearing nerve. Often, the damage isn’t experienced until later in life. Being cautious and protecting hearing now will prevent hearing loss later in life.”

Rmom: “Do you have any suggestions if my child refuses to wear ear protection?”

Dr. Poe: “A good way to encourage a child to wear hearing protection is to allow them to pick something that they like. At our office, we can make custom hearing protection in different colors and patterns so that wearing hearing protection can be more fun!”

Dr. Poe also let me in on a kid-friendly tip when I asked her about my child’s ears being too small for the foam earplugs I purchased at the local pharmacy. It turns out you can cut the earplug lengthwise so that it fits better in my tyke’s ears. Who knew?

According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, both the level of noise, as well as the amount of time you are exposed to noise can damage hearing. Noise levels are measured in decibels. The louder the decibel, the greater the risk.

Foam earplugs (inserted into the ear canal) decrease decibel levels by 15 or 30 decibels, depending on a variety of factors. For particularly high decibel levels, consider wearing foam earplugs combined with ear muffs, which fit tightly over the ears. Follow the link for information on decibel levels during common day-to-day activities and more information about hearing protection.

Jessica1-214x300Please visit the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association for additional information about hearing loss prevention.

Jessica E. Poe, AU.D., F-AAA, CCC/A, earned her Doctorate of Audiology and undergraduate degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology from West Virginia University. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Audiology and holds the Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Jessica has worked with Virginia Ear, Nose & Throat since 2013.