The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) announced the start of National Protect Your Hearing Month, an initiative that begins each October to raise awareness about the causes and prevention of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Nearly 24% of US adults ages 20 to 69 have features of their hearing tests in one or both ears that suggest hearing loss from loud noise, based on a 2017 study by researchers from the NIDCD and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
NIHL occurs when tiny hair cells within the cochlea—the small, snail-shaped organ for hearing in the inner ear—are damaged or destroyed by repeated noise or a one-time exposure to very loud noise. When hair cells are damaged, they can’t send information about sound to the brain. NIHL is typically gradual, so by the time you notice hearing loss, many hair cells have been destroyed. Because people can’t grow new hair cells to replace damaged ones, hearing loss from noise is permanent.
The NIDCD provides science-based resources on hearing and hearing loss, including steps that parents, educators, and caregivers can take to protect kids’ hearing and to help children develop healthy hearing habits. The It’s a Noisy Planet. Protect Their Hearing, campaign, launched in 2008, is said to have reached approximately six million people with its healthy hearing message. The campaign has spread the word through school presentations, partnerships with national organizations, conference sessions and workshops, videos, social media, and online and print materials. The NIDCD has distributed about a million Noisy Planet publications in English and Spanish.
The NIDCD offers an online Noisy Planet Teacher Toolkit with step-by-step instructions and hands-on activities that provides everything educators need to teach preteens (grades 2–6) about the causes and prevention of NIHL. The science-based presentation explains what sound is, how sound travels through the ear, how loud sounds can damage hearing over time, and how to protect your hearing.
Noisy Planet partners with several federal agencies and organizations to disseminate hearing protection messages. The Noisy Planet team leads conference sessions and train-the-trainer workshops for 4-H youth leaders, school nurses, and audiologists to empower them to deliver the healthy hearing message to students and parents.
Take steps to prevent hearing loss from noise:
- Lower the volume.
- Move away from the noise when possible.
- Wear hearing protectors, such as earplugs or earmuffs.
Observe National Protect Your Hearing Month and learn how you can lower the risk of hearing loss with these NIDCD resources:
- October is Protect Your Hearing Month shareable image, also available in Spanish.
- It’s a Noisy Planet. Protect Their Hearing, a public education campaign that teaches preteens and their parents and communities about noise-induced hearing loss.
- How Loud is Too Loud? bookmark (PDF).
- Noise-Induced Hearing Loss fact sheet.
- Journey of Sound to the Brain video.
Source: NIDCDImage: NIDCD