Hand Dryers Can Hurt Kids’ Ears

Dr. David Dekriekchildhood hearing loss

Hand Dryers Can Hurt Kids’ Ears

Dr. David Dekriek

Dr. David Dekriek has been helping the hearing impaired of Los Angeles County to hear better for more than 10 years. Dr. Dekriek earned his Doctor of Audiology at the University of Florida and has been awarded his Board Certification in Audiology. He is also a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology.
Dr. David Dekriek

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Adults are used to noise in our everyday life: the refrigerator running, the exhaust fans of equipment at work, the sound of a hand dryer in a public restroom. But think for a minute about children and how, because of their height, they are a lot closer to the noise that you are used to being a couple of feet away.

Prolonged exposure to any loud noise – over 80 decibels – or the exposure to a single loud noise can cause hearing damage. Children are very susceptible to damage from loud noise and as adults, we wouldn’t even consider that noise anything but irritating. If you think your hearing, or are concerned about your child’s hearing, make an appointment today at a Fidelity Hearing Center for a hearing evaluation.

Who Would Suspect Hand Dryers?

Sometimes the things that you are used to and see quite often can pose an unsuspecting danger. One young lady in Canada noticed she would have ringing in her ears after using the hand dryers in public restrooms. While she wasn’t even a teenager yet, she set out to research the issues. She noticed other children were sometimes reluctant to use the dryers and some would cover their ears when they were near a dryer. She thought the noise volume of the dryer was painful and could be harming children’s ears and she set out to research her theory.

Using a decibel meter, she measured the volume of dryers at various heights. She found out the dryers were indeed loud and were at a height that made the noise louder for children. Her decibel reading showed the two most common hand dryers used in public restrooms operated at a volume over 100 decibels! And that sound was very close to a lot of children’s’ ears.

A volume of over 100 decibels is a volume that can lead to learning disabilities, attention difficulties and even ruptured ear drums. One dryer came in with a level of 121 decibels and in Canada, where she lived, toys with a sound level over 100 can’t be sold to children because of the potential for damage. And while some dryers had volume levels that were acceptable for adults, because of their lower placement and the height of children, the volume was not acceptable for children.

Hearing Loss and Children

John Hopkins researchers reported in a study that children are frequently around noise that is louder than 85 decibels. Remember, the average conversation is done at 60 decibels. Loud noises, especially for children, can damage the hair cells in the inner ear as well as the hearing nerve. Hearing loss may happen right away or over time.

And noise is everywhere. Small appliances, from hair dryers to food processors and blenders, are loud. There’s traffic noise and subway noise and noise from leaf blowers and lawn mowers. Adults need to be more aware of noise in the environment and protect children from noise adults may find acceptable, but could harm children. Children are also susceptible to noise induced hearing loss because they may play their personal music devices louder than they should.

Symptoms of Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Symptoms of noise induced hearing loss include a ringing or buzzing in the ears and trouble hearing soft or faint sounds. Conversation may also sound muffled. It may feel like your head is stuffed up. Exposure to loud noise, in addition to damaging hearing, has other dangers including high blood pressure, increased heart rate, upset stomach, difficulty sleeping, irritability and increased fatigue as well as muscle spasms, trouble concentrating and memory issues. You may also notice personality changes with children including aggressive or violent reactions to events or situations that didn’t usually cause problems.

The World Health Organization noted that children living in apartments near a busy highway were subjected to a constant 55 to 60 decibel noise even when living on the 32nd floor. Children living near railroads subjected to noise from an average amount of trains each day were three to four months behind in their reading levels compared to children who weren’t living near a rail system.

Children have different perceptions of what is “noise” and what is “harmful.” They are vulnerable to noise in settings that adults might not be. Unlike adults, they don’t have control over their environment. They can’t or might not think about walking away from loud noise. Be aware of what is happening at their schools and even their day care. A large construction project near a day care or their school could pose potential hazards.

Fidelity Hearing Center

At Fidelity Hearing Center, we provide comprehensive hearing health services for the whole family. Contact us today for a hearing test.