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Tell Them to Turn It Down; Your Kids Are at High Risk for Hearing Loss

The Short of It

If your child listens to an audio device on a daily basis, he or she is at risk for permanent hearing loss, says the World Health Organization in a new report.

The Lowdown

Not surprisingly, half of people in high income countries between the ages of 12 and 35 are cranking up the volume of their audio devices to the point that they could be damaging their hearing. The WHO claims that 1.1 billion people need to turn down their devices or risk losing their hearing for good.

"They should be aware that once you lose your hearing, it won't come back. Taking simple preventive actions will allow people to continue to enjoy themselves without putting their hearing at risk," explains Dr. Etienne Krug, WHO Director for the Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention.

Also at risk are young adults who go to concerts and bars where the noise exceeds safe levels. In as little as 15 minutes, permanent damage can be done.

The Upshot

So what are safe listening levels? The National Institutes of Health recommends not exceeding 110 decibels on your headphones. Of course, that's difficult to quantify on your own, so try downloading an app to help you or consider purchasing headphones that regulate noise levels.

It's also a good idea to set limits on how long your child can listen to an audio device; one hour each day is what's recommended.

And consider that if your teen works in a loud restaurant for more than 8 hours a day, and the noise level exceeds 85 decibels, he or she might be at risk for hearing damage. Even a sporting event, where the noise level is likely to be at least 100 decibels, can create hearing loss.

If your child complains of difficulty hearing or experiences a ringing sound in the ears, contact your doctor.

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