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Hearing damage creeps in at a young age: “After that it gets worse”

About 14% of children between the ages of 9 and 11 have early hearing damage, also called noise damage. This was already evident in 2018 from a large population survey of the Erasmus MCGeneration R.

Holidays and celebrations

If in old age, for example by walking, you add more damage, things go from bad to worse. Kloet: “It builds up. If you first listen to a lot of music as a child, then go to school parties and then go to concerts or festivals, more and more damage to the hair cells in the ears can occur. And this is irreversible.”

The horror stories about severe tinnitus are well known: you always suffer from noises in your head, beeps, hisses and knocks.

There is no cure, so preventing noise damage is the motto. Where are the risks? “The main exposures to loud noise for children are phones and tablets. They listen to music, play games, watch YouTube videos. Often with headphones, because parents don’t always want to hear that sound.”

Use a limiter

You can safely be exposed to 88 decibels for 15 hours a week in your spare time, says Kloet. “Set a limiter on your child’s tablet or phone. This ensures that the sound never exceeds 85 decibels.” A study by SafetyNL in 2020 showed that a quarter of young people do not know their own sound you are tough remained.

Without such a limiter, the sound of a tablet or phone on your children’s ears can reach up to 100 db. And this can cause serious damage. Kloet: “Every 3 dB more doubles the impact of sound on hearing and halves the safe listening time.”

On the political agenda

Hearing damage prevention is also a topic of discussion in The Hague. Earlier this year, Secretary of State Maarten van Ooijen for Public Health, Wellness and Sport asked the Health Council for a vision on hearing damage prevention: “WHO recommends 100 dB as a level. maximum noise during festivals and concerts. 18 years old. I asked for advice about it. “

The Secretary of State also asked the Health Council to deal with the prevention of damage to health in the private sphere, for example by music players. Recommendations should be available in the fall.

Particularly for young children, the Health Council was asked to provide separate advice on additional hearing screening. “This will come later.”

SafetyNL supports extra hearing screening for all children at the end of primary school or the beginning of secondary school. This serves to detect hearing damage, but also to draw attention to the risks. Now only the hearing of babies and toddlers is tested once as a standard.

Someone who is certainly familiar with the risks of hearing damage is Dennis Kox. The Five Lakes Clinic ENT doctor emphasizes the importance of volume limiter headphones for children. “For example, when a child is playing, the sound is not consistently 85 decibels. But occasionally there are strong outliers. A limiter ensures that this abnormal value stays within the safety standard.”

‘Feel worse’

Parents should also realize that their hearing has suffered more wear and tear than that of their children. “If you turn a song on loud, your child will hear it much louder, so keep that in mind.”

Kox points out that being too panicked is certainly not necessary. “We shouldn’t be afraid of music, for example. Music is something humanity has always appreciated. And it should stay that way. I think you should want to convey that message to children too. Listen to music, even the music that your parents do. don’t like it. But not too long and not too loud. And if you go to a concert or festival, bring earplugs. “

Kox does not believe that additional hearing screening is necessary for children at the end of primary school or the beginning of secondary school. “Measuring isn’t always knowing. I have enough tinnitus patients for whom a hearing test result is good.”


The doctor sees greater benefits in information in primary schools, as he himself provides. “I’ll explain how the ear and hearing work and what happens with too much noise. And how you can prevent damage.”

He continues: “My kids come home with things they hear and see on TikTok. The government could think of an information campaign on this topic with a key influencer.”

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