Better Hearing & Speech Month

Week 3: Noise Exposure, Hearing Loss and Prevention Tips

Protecting the Hearing of Your Children & Students

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is caused by exposure to loud sounds and usually occurs painlessly over a period of time. However, it may occur from one exposure to an extremely loud noise. Research suggests that NIHL is occurring at younger ages and with more frequency. Noise from personal headphones, jet skis, concerts, lawn equipment, power tools, firecrackers, household appliances, toys and musical instruments all have the potential to cause hearing loss. NIHL can be prevented. Teach your children to know when loud is too loud.


It's too loud if...

  • You must raise your voice to be heard.
  • You have difficulty understanding someone who's an arm's length away.
  • You have pain, ringing or buzzing in your ears after exposure to loud sounds.
  • Speech sounds muffled or dull after noise exposure.


Here are some simple prevention steps:

  • Avoid and limit periods of exposure to noise.
  • Buy quiet! Don't buy noisy appliances, equipment or toys.
  • Don't put objects in the ears such as cotton swabs.
  • Monitor hearing when ototoxic drugs are prescribed.
  • Wear hearing protectors:
    • Ear plugs can totally block the ear canal. They come in various pre-made shapes and sizes, or they can be custom-made by taking an impression of the ear. Ear plugs can reduce noise 15-30 dB depending on how they are made and fit.
    • Ear muffs fit completely over both ears. They must fit tightly so that sound is blocked from entering the ears. Like ear plugs, they can reduce sound 15-30dBs.
How the Ear Works

Warning Signs of Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Does someone you know...

  • Frequently misunderstand what is said and want things repeated?
  • Have difficulty following verbal instructions and/or respond inconsistently?
  • Turn up the volume of the television, radio, or stereo?
  • Get distracted easily?
  • Have difficulty listening or paying attention when there is noise in the background?
  • Have speech and/or language problems?
  • Have a short attention span or poor memory for sounds or words?
  • Have trouble identifying and/or localizing sounds?
  • Have reading, spelling, and other academic problems?
  • Have self-described feelings of isolation, exclusion, annoyance, embarrassment, confusion, and helplessness?
  • Have behavior problems?
  • Pull or scratch at his or her ears?
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MEDIA ADVISORY: Now Hear This: Protect Kids' Ears During July 4th Fireworks


(Rockville, MD - June 25, 2012)

One in five American teenagers now suffer from some type of hearing loss, an increase of 31% since the mid-1990s, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. So, this July 4th, celebrate safely. Noise from exploding fireworks can top 155 decibels (dB)! If you are sitting very close to the blasts, there is potential for immediate, sudden, and permanent hearing loss. Limit your child's chances of ending up on the wrong side of this statistic by taking these preventative measures, recommended by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association:

  • Sit at least 500 feet from where the fireworks are launched. Fireworks noise for spectators 800 feet away ranges from 88 to 126 dB. But from 10 feet away, it's 155 dB—louder than a military jet takeoff!
  • If you notice ringing or buzzing in your ears, move farther away.
  • Bring earplugs for every family member. You can find them at many drug stores or sporting goods stores for just for a few dollars or less. (For children under 7 or 8, these earplugs may be too big, so consider using child-size earmuffs. Ear protection must fit properly in order to provide protection.)

Hearing Loss in the Classroom

Hearing loss can lead to numerous problems in school. Students with hearing loss can have difficulty with academic achievement and performance, including language arts, vocabulary, arithmetic, and problem solving. They may score lower on achievement tests, and have greater needs for special education or extra support in the classroom. Hearing loss can also cause social and emotional development problems.


Here’s what to look for in your classroom:



Academics- Children with hearing loss may have:


  • Lower scores on achievement and verbal IQ tests
  • Greater need for enrollment in special education or support classes
  • Problems in various subjects, including language arts, vocabulary, reading, spelling, arithmetic and problem solving.


Socially- Children with hearing loss may:


  • Have self-described feelings of isolation, exclusion, embarrassment, annoyance, confusion, and helplessness
  • Refuse to participate in group activities
  • Act withdrawn or sullen
  • Exhibit lower performance on measures of social maturity
  • Have significant problems following directions



Be aware of the warning signs! Does your student...?


  • Frequently misunderstand what is said and want things repeated?
  • Have difficulty following verbal instructions and/or respond inconsistently?
  • Get distracted easily?
  • Have difficulty listening or paying attention when there is noise in the background?
  • Have speech and/or language problems?
  • Have a short attention span or poor memory for sounds or words?
  • Have trouble identifying and/or localizing sounds?
  • Have reading, spelling, and other academic problems?
  • Have self-described feelings of isolation, exclusion, annoyance, embarrassment, confusion, and helplessness?
  • Have behavior problems?




Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Resource Guide for Teachers

A K-8 curriculum supplement with hands-on science activities about the anatomy and physiology of hearing, the physics of sound, and health-related behaviors for prevention of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss.

Handy Handout about Noise-Induced Hearing Loss for you or your students' parents:

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Sources:

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (2013) www.asha.org Listen to Your Buds: Information for Educators

Christina Rojas, M.A., CCC-SLP

Audubon Elementary's own friendly Speech Therapist :)
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