The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Health & Fitness

December 2, 2013

Speaking of Health: Noisy gifts: Staying ear healthy this holiday season

50 million Americans suffer from hearing loss

Hearing loss is often associated with the aging population — something that happens to the elderly. The reality is that hearing loss impacts the lives of younger generations too.

The Hearing Health Foundation reports that nearly 50 million Americans suffer from hearing loss in at least one ear, including 20 percent of teenagers. Young children also inflict hearing damage by playing with noisy toys.

This holiday season remember to purchase ear healthy gifts for your loved ones.

Loud toys

Many toys that young children play with can produce levels equal to 90 decibals, which is as loud or louder than a lawn mower. These levels would require adults to utilize hearing protection. Additionally, young children often play with these toys at ear level. Putting them up near their face, ears and mouth exposes their ears to levels as loud or louder than an airplane taking off – 120 dB.

As a parent, it’s a good idea to test toys out in the store before buying them. Some things to keep in mind:

•	If a toy sounds too loud to you, they are too loud for your child.

•	Think like a child: hold the toy up by your ear and get down to the ground to mimic a child’s height.

•	Testing the volume level at arm’s length is not effective. Your child will play with the toy much closer to their face.

•	If you have a noisy toy you or your child doesn’t want to return, try placing clear tape over the speaker. Some tests have shown this limits sound and may be safer for kids’ ears.

•	Research the “Noisy Toys List” on sightandhearing.org.

It’s important to limit your child’s play with noisy toys. Avoid loud action figures and dolls, and shut the noise off of audible playthings every now and then. Your child’s ears are delicate.

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