Health Watch - School Days: Hearing

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


The new school year is now well under way. This week on Health Watch, we’ll consider some health-related issues that may have come up since the kids went back to school. Some kids may find it easier to concentrate on their homework when they use their portable music players to block out distractions. But that could lead to hearing damage.

Loud sounds can damage hearing, and ongoing exposure to loud sounds can lead to permanent hearing loss. Portable music players like iPods can reach up to 120 decibels, well above the level that can cause damage.

Dr. John McClay, a pediatric otorhinolaryngologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says there are two things parents should do to protect their children’s hearing. One is to limit the amount of time children spend using earphones. The other is to make sure kids keep the volume below 80 decibels. One sign that the volume on a headset is too loud is if you can hear the music someone else is listening to. If you notice changes in your child’s hearing, you should schedule a hearing test.

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October 2010


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