December 13, 2022
(Rockville, MD) The year-end season of cheer is also a time for excessive noise—from loud holiday gatherings to toys and technology gifts that can reach potentially dangerous sound levels.
To help the public protect themselves and their loved ones, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is sharing some common holiday hearing hazards—and simple guidance that can minimize the risk of permanent ear damage.
Hearing loss due to noise exposure (called noise-induced hearing loss) is completely preventable. However, once it occurs, it’s irreversible. Just last month, a new study [PDF] in the journal BMJ Global Health reported that unsafe listening practices from use of personal listening devices and attendance at loud entertainment venues are common among people ages 12–34 years—and that up to 1.35 billion young people worldwide are at risk for hearing loss worldwide.
Below are three common sources of excessively loud noise, along with tips for hearing protection.
Sirens on toy vehicles, kiddie musical instruments, talking or singing dolls, and play phones, remotes, and laptops are just some of the electronic toys that can exceed a safe sound level of 75 decibels. This is especially problematic for children, who often hold toys close to their heads. Some young children may not yet have the physical ability to move a toy on their own or know that it is too loud, so parents and caregivers of infants and toddlers must be extra vigilant.
Here are some hearing protection steps that people can take:
Earbuds and headphones, smartphones, and other electronic gifts all can reach dangerously high sound levels. It’s important for parents and caregivers to monitor the volume for all kids, from young children to teenagers, as well as to encourage and enforce regular listening breaks (aim for hourly). In addition, here are some features to look for when purchasing products:
Holiday parties, concerts and shows . . . all of these events can and do often exceed safe noise levels. Below are some easy ways for people to safeguard their hearing while still enjoying themselves:
In general, ASHA recommends that parents and caregivers talk to their children about why hearing protection is important—to help them understand the value of their hearing. Everyone should also learn the signs of hearing loss and seek out a hearing evaluation from a certified audiologist if they ever have concerns about their hearing or pain/ringing in their ears. Find a professional, and learn more, at www.asha.org/public.
About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 223,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel; and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) identify, assess, and treat speech, language, and swallowing disorders.