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Do you hear what I hear? Protecting your child’s hearing

Kids are all about their senses. Whether it is putting something in their mouth at a young age or blasting music in their ears when they are teenagers, they are using these senses to explore and discover the world around them.

While these senses add many wonderful things to a child’s world, it can be very frustrating when something goes wrong with one of them. February is Kids ENT (ear, nose and throat) Health Month. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, “pediatric ear, nose and throat disorders remain among the primary reasons children visit a physician.”

This month, the experts at Dayton Children’s are taking a look at one specific concern related to ENT — hearing loss.

A child losing their favorite Ninja Turtle or Barbie can seem devastating at the time, but toys can be easily replaced. Hearing loss, on the other hand, isn’t something that can be “found” once lost. Hearing loss happens when the tiny hair cells in the inner ear are damaged through seemingly normal activity or behavior, such as attending a rock concert.

“Protecting your child’s hearing is extremely important. In today’s society it is popular to turn up the volume of your favorite music,” says William Turner, MD, director of the hearing loss and cochlear implant program at Dayton Children’s Hospital. “But our ears are sensitive organs and they can’t handle loud music or sounds like we think they can. It is important for parents to help their children know what precautions to take in order to help prevent hearing loss at a young age.”

5 tips to protect your child’s hearing:

1. Take it down a notch. Turn down the volume on headphones and speakers.

2. Speak softly on the cell. Lower the sound and voice settings on a cell phone.

3. Plug it up when rocking out. If your teen or tween is heading to a rock concert, suggest wearing earplugs. (There are special earplugs made specifically for loud concerts).

4. Hearing protection for tool time. Teens should wear hearing protection if they have a class such as Tech Shop in school.

5. Follow the leader. Finally, set a good example and follow the same tips.

Approximately eight percent of children have profound hearing loss. In the state of Ohio, all children are screened for hearing loss at birth. Since hearing loss can occur at any time, the state also requires hearing screening for school-age children. If you are concerned that child might be experiencing hearing loss please speak with your child’s school nurse or pediatrician.

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