For Teachers & Parents
Sound Choices is an educational program designed to teach children about hearing conservation, the hazards of loud sound, and the long-term effects of exposure to loud sound. Although the definition of “noise” may be interpreted on a personal basis, it can be described very simply as unwanted sound. Unwanted sound, or noise, can result in hearing loss, which is known as noise-induced hearing loss. Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) can be instantaneous and caused by just one single exposure to a very loud sound or NIHL can be caused by cumulative exposure to loud sounds, which gradually builds over time to cause the hearing loss. So even though hearing loss is not present in the childhood years, NIHL may be evidenced early in adulthood. This is true for today’s children more than it was in previous generations. Any reduction in the overall lifetime noise “dose” will be good for hearing in later years.
According to the National Center of Disease Statistics, 5.2 million children between the ages of 6-19 years have hearing loss directly related to noise exposure. With the ever growing popularity of personal music players, video games, and noisy electronic toys and devices, today’s children are being exposed to louder sound levels than previous generations. Many current listening devices use an earphone worn in the ear, making it more difficult for authority figures such as parents and teachers to monitor the true listening level of the device being used.
Although permanent, noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is also 100% preventable. Just as we teach our children about other health and safety issues (like wearing bike helmets, using sunscreen, eating healthy food), we should also address hearing wellness. Unlike other health issues, NIHL is generally invisible. There are no overt visible warning signs like blood, bruises, or pain. NIHL can, though, have a negative lifelong impact on academic achievement, employment, and social relationships.