Children are born with more hearing-related nerve cells than adults. That means that they do not develop noise-related hearing loss as quickly as adults, but when the damage is first done, it is permanent.
Most parents have certainly experienced that their children can have selective hearing. This type of “hearing loss” is acceptable, but unfortunately many children put themselves at risk of developing real hearing loss every day. They spend hours listening to mp3-players at a volume which damages their hearing.
Hearing loss sneaks up
Daily use of mp3-players and other music players can be the reason for the coming generations’ hearing loss. Children and young people listen to music directly into their ears, and the danger is that hearing loss can take years to show itself in children. Dorte Hammerhsøi from Aalborg University in Denmark, explains that research points to children having an over capacity of the nerve cells which are essential for hearing. That means that they can listen to music at a higher volume for longer than is good for them, because healthy nerve cells take over when the others go down. But nerve cells are supposed to last a lifetime, and if one has already ruined them at a young age, an age-related hearing loss can occur.
In Denmark, around every other Dane has an mp3-player and even more have mobile phones which can also play music. That is more than the EU average of one in five who say that they listen to an mp3-player daily. Around one in ten of them are at risk of developing lasting hearing damage such as tinnitus, according to the EU. That is the same as between a quarter and half a million Danes being at risk of lasting hearing damage.
Tinnitus and tiredness
In Sweden, a study carried out by Örebro University shows that five percent of the 9-year-old children studied had tinnitus. In a group of 60 people between the ages of 16-55, where the average age was 32, 16 percent had tinnitus, nine percent were over sensitive to noise and four percent became tired from noise. Over sensitivity to noise means that noises in the normal range are experienced as uncomfortable or directly painful, while those who became tired from noise grew tired mentally and in their ears.
The 60/60 principle
There is therefore good reason to take care of your children's hearing before they show signs of hearing difficulty. Hearing advocates are pressing for people to turn down the volume. It should be kept at no higher than 60 percent of the maximum and it should be used for no more than about 60 minutes a day.
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