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Make This Holiday Season A Little Bit Quieter

noisy toys and hearing loss

The excitement of the holiday season is here, and children everywhere are thrilled. The kiddos are counting the days until Santa brings lots of fun things. One problem with all this fun is the noise these toys may bring with them! Excessive noise is harmful to a child’s hearing. The American Academy of Otolaryngology believes that three million children under the age of 18 may have a problem hearing. So as the holidays arrive, take the time to help protect your child’s hearing.

The Impact Of Noise

A noise-induced hearing loss doesn’t just affect one’s ability to hear. For children, it also affects a child’s speech, language, cognitive, social, and emotional behavior. The viral video and computer games on the market today can reach sound levels of 135 decibels. For comparison, this sound level is equal to that of a jackhammer. Music players are no better. When a child listens to their favorite music through earbuds, they may be enduring 110 decibels. Prolonged listening to music at this level will likely produce a hearing loss of some degree.

No Warnings

A significant problem with all of the noisy toys that are available this holiday season is that manufacturers do not warn parents of the potential dangers these toys pose to their children’s hearing. Thankfully, groups are working to change this policy. The Sight & Hearing Association (SHA) tests toys and alerts parents to potential dangers associated with the noisemakers. This organization tests toys at distances that children typically play with them, unlike the intervals that manufacturers use. For this holiday season, the group is offering the following tips to help protect your child’s hearing:

  • Always check the sound level of a toy before you purchase it.
  • If a toy is earsplitting report it to the Consumer Product Safety Commision or the Sight & Hearing Association.
  • Try applying masking or packing tape over the speaker of a toy to reduce the volume.
  • Only purchase toys that have volume controls.

Toys With Less Noise

For the sake of your child’s hearing, it is vital that you as a parent provide an atmosphere for your child that is quiet. Try to minimize the noise and provide time for reading, talking, and listening. There are great gifts that don’t damage hearing. Here are a few to help you get started:

  • Books. Books are not only quiet, but they also help children develop reading skills.
  • Educational toys. Shop for computer games with educational themes.
  • These gifts are quiet and fun for the whole family.
  • Construction sets. Building blocks are quiet and develop diverse skills in your child.
  • Card games. These noiseless games are not only fun but help your child with math and language skills.

Make this holiday special this year by reducing the noise that is cumulative and detrimental to your child’s hearing. The damage is irreversible, so it is wise to protect children early. Keep an eye on their activities, listen to their toys volume, and spend good times with your child doing quiet activities. Happy holidays!

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Hearing Loss and the Holidays

Hearing family during the holidays

With Halloween now behind us and Thanksgiving on the horizon, there is no doubt that the holiday season is here. While the fully stocked store aisles and endless TV and radio ads may focus on the things we “need” to get for ourselves and others, it’s the people we spend time with that really make it special. And chances are, at least some of those family and friends will have hearing loss.
Hearing loss is all around us
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), almost 38 million Americans have at least some trouble hearing. Those are just people 18 and over, too. The number is even higher when accounting for children with hearing loss. With statistics like that, if you don’t have hearing loss, you most likely know someone who does.
With plenty of holiday gatherings on the calendar in the weeks to come, now is a great time to plan and prepare with hearing loss in mind.
Holiday hearing tips
Whether it’s talking over turkey, catching up at a festive cocktail party, debating with Dad or gabbing over gifts, tips like these can help you connect and communicate even when family and friends have hearing loss:
Tune in and turn up: Whether you’re the host or a guest, stay tuned in to those you know (or think) have hearing loss. Do they seem to be having trouble joining in the conversation? Are they staying on the outskirts of the activity? Try engaging them in conversation on their own or bring them back into a group conversation to keep them feeling connected and part of the festivities. Everyone appreciates feeling engaged, cared for and part of the action, regardless of hearing ability.
Create the best setting: Considering candlelight and spirited holiday music for your get together? Keep in mind that it could make communicating more difficult for guests with hearing loss. Instead, opt for a brighter setting with minimal background noise to make it easier for those with hearing impairment to see lip movement, facial expressions and gestures and hear more of the conversation around them. This can also help those with hearing loss avoid extra fatigue from trying to listen through extra background noise.
Practice effective communication: This is crucial no matter who or where you are! Strategies like these can help everyone avoid confusion and frustration and help everyone feel heard and connected:

  • Face whoever you’re speaking with – In any situation, make sure you are face to face when speaking. This allows anyone (especially someone with hearing loss) to take in the full picture of eye contact, body language and lip movement along with the sound they hear.
  • Speak clearly – Avoid rushing, mumbling, talking too loudly or too softly. For someone with hearing loss, these can make speech more difficult to understand and lead to frustration.
  • Rephrase instead of repeat – It can be easy to just repeat exactly what you’ve said when the person you’re speaking with hasn’t heard or understood. Instead, rephrase what you’ve said. In some cases, different words may be easier to hear and understand. A re-phrased statement may also offer deeper context for the listener helping them grasp what’s being said.

Tips like these can help keep everyone connected this holiday season, even with hearing loss. If you’d like to learn more about hearing loss and help family and friends who have hearing loss, contact our office. Scheduling a hearing evaluation may be the best gift you could give them or yourself this year!