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


Music and headphones

For children and teens that are glued to their music player or smart device, parents should listen to their child when they have headphones in and music on. If the parent can hear the music, it’s too loud.

Output limiting headphones is a nice gift option. In most cases, they automatically limit the output level to about 85 dB, which is a safe volume for up to eight hours. These headphones are available at many Mayo Clinic Health System sites.

You can also invest in custom ear bud headphones or noise-cancelling headphones that help block out background noise, allowing you to decrease the volume.


Does your son or daughter — or maybe even your spouse — want an instrument as a present? Instruments are fun gift ideas, but you need to consider tips to make sure hearing isn’t sacrificed for making music.

For all musicians, especially drummers, smart hearing health care is essential. Older musicians may benefit from musician earplugs that limit sound without compromising musical integrity.

Drummers should try practicing with drum pads as much as possible. This will eliminate loud noises while still offering a surface on which to rehearse stick strokes.

Another approach for musicians is to limit practice to intervals. Try practicing, with ear protection, for 30 to 60 minutes, taking a break for the same amount of time to give your ears a rest and then going back to practice.

As you are out shopping for gifts during the holidays, or any other time of year, don’t forget about hearing health care. Your ears provide an important sense, and they are sensitive. Make sure your presents support healthy ears.

Katie Kendhammer, Au.D., is a Mayo Clinic Health System audiologist.

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Health & Fitness coverage is supported by Mayo Clinic Health System, preserving the health and well-being of southern Minnesota communities.



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