Amye Walters | CWK Network
“Hearing is a valuable resource that once you lose you never regain. It’s important to protect and preserve that throughout life.”
- Dr. Brian W. Herrmann, pediatric otolaryngologist-
Next to growing old, noise is the second leading cause of hearing loss in the United States. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 12 percent of American kids have some hearing loss, and one of the causes may be a night at the movies.
When 4-year-old Oliver thinks a movie’s too loud at home, there’s an easy fix; he can just turn down the volume. But there is no way to control the volume in a movie theater, so Oliver says, “I cover my ears.”
“I’ve always really thought that maybe it was more of an age-associated problem, but when I think about it, it may very well be that it’s too loud,” says his mother, Madeline Livingston.
According toa University of Hawaii study, the average noise level of children’s movies is similar to that of action movies, peaking at 130 decibels. That’s the noise level of a jet engine at take-off.
Oliver’s father, Andy, describes a movie outing with his son: “The movie starts, and he starts getting into it. Then the action starts and the loud noises, and things start happening. And he suddenly wants to move to the back of the theater, or he wants to move to the front of the theater or suddenly it’s ‘Daddy, I’m tired I want to go home.’ We’ll talk about it afterward and I say, ‘Why did you want to go home?’ And he says, ‘It was too noisy.’”
Experts say over time loud sounds are harmful, especially to young children.
“The earlier that kids are exposed to loud noises, the earlier that they’re most likely going to lose hearing as an adult,” says Dr. Brian W. Herrmann, a pediatric otolaryngologist.
Dr. Herrmann warns parents that “if you are having difficulty hearing somebody during normal conversation, or are having to speak up in order to get your point across to somebody, usually that is too loud.” He also tells parents to be mindful if a child complains of ringing or pain in the ears, both of which could be signs of potential damage to your child’s hearing.
Parents should protect a child’s hearing just as they protect a child’s other physical attributes.
“Watching the volume levels, preventing children, for example, from using a Walkman that’s too loud, are perfect examples of what parents can do to watch over their children,” says Dr. Herrmann.
So i f your child seems uncomfortable at the movies, talk to the management or do what the Livingston family does: “I go home,” says Oliver.
Experts tell parents not to avoid movie theaters but rather be conscious of excessive volume and its potential dangers. And remember to always control volumes at home, in the car and wherever possible.
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