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Portable music players linked to hearing loss in children

Post on 11th September 2018

At Scrivens we have long been concerned about the damaging effects of portable music players on young people’s hearing, and it seems there is evidence to back our fears.

A Dutch study suggests that children who listen to music through headphones could be at greater risk of noise related hearing loss.

The hearing test results of 3,316 children aged 9 to 11 were examined by researchers, who also questioned parents about hearing complaints from their children, how often they use portable music players and typically set the volume.

The results were pretty concerning, with 443 children (14%)having trouble hearing at high frequencies, which is often caused by noise exposure.

Regardless of how long they wore headphones or how high they set the volume, kids who used portable music players just once or twice a week were more than double as likely to have hearing loss as children who didn’t use the devices.

“Although we cannot conclude from this study that music players caused these hearing losses, it shows that music exposure might influence hearing at a young age. This is important, because hearing loss is irreversible and thus has lifelong consequences,” said lead study author Dr.Carlijn le Clercq of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam.

It was noted by the investigators that 9 in 10 children and teens today are using some form of portable music player, typically a smartphone or tablet — either for educational or recreational use.

Noise-related hearing loss, such as that experienced after a concert, sounds can seem muffled or distant and people may hear ringing in their ears, but this is usually temporary.  However, it can become permanent with repeated exposure to noise.

It’s important to note that the study wasn’t a controlled experiment and younger children may develop high frequency hearing loss resulting from ear infections.Another limitation of the study is that researchers lacked data on portable music player use and hearing-related symptoms for roughly one-third of the study participants.

Despite these limitations at Scrivens we would advise parents to be more vigilant about how their children use headphones.

Scrivens hearing aid audiologist Stuart Spencer said: “There is no magical cure for hearing loss caused by loud noise.  Once the damage is done, it can’t be undone.  So, we would urge parents to regulate the use of head phones and provide their children with hearing protection when attending a loud event such as a concert or festival, or playing a loud musical instrument such as an electric guitar or drums.”

So please, enjoy the music but be mindful of protecting your family’s hearing. If you have any concerns you can seek advice and hearing care services at your local Scrivens branch.

Don’t forget your local branch will offer free hearing screenings if you’re concerned.

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