It’s a Noisy Planet. Protect Their Hearing.® is a national public education campaign aimed at preteens (children ages 8 to 12), their parents, and other educators with the goal of increasing awareness of the causes and prevention of noise-induced hearing loss.

The science-based program was developed by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  Research shows that parents and caregivers are the primary influence on this age group. With Noisy Planet tools and information, parents and other adults can encourage children to adopt healthy hearing habits before and during the time that they develop listening, leisure, and working habits. Noisy Planet’s three key preventions messages are:

Fast Facts

  • Approximately 15 percent of Americans (26 million people) between the ages of 20 and 69 have high frequency hearing loss due to exposure to noise at work or during leisure activities.1
  • One in eight people in the United States (13 percent, or 30 million) aged 12 years or older has hearing loss in both ears.2
  • 100% Preventable. We can help our children avoid hearing loss caused by noise.
  • 85 Decibels. Noise at this level and beyond for a prolonged period of time puts you at risk for hearing loss.

Hearing Loss Caused by Loud Sounds

  • Symptoms of hearing loss from noise increase gradually. Over time, the sounds a person hears may become unclear, making it hard to understand what people are saying. Someone with hearing loss caused by noise may not even be aware of the loss.
  • Hearing tests can uncover hearing loss caused by noise.

Risk Factors

  • Noise-induced hearing loss is related to:
    • How loud the sound is (the decibel level),
    • The amount of time you are exposed to the sound, and
    • How far away you are from the sound.
  • Hearing loss from noise is related to a person's genes. Some people are more likely than others to harm their hearing when they listen to certain sounds. Scientists are working to figure out which people are more at risk for this type of hearing loss.
  • You may not realize it, but some common activities that children participate in can reach potentially damaging noise levels: playing band instruments; listening to music or watching television set at high volumes; attending concerts and movies; playing with loud toys; and riding off-road vehicles and snowmobiles.

How Hearing Loss Happens

To understand how loud noises can damage our hearing, we have to understand how we hear. Hearing depends on a series of complex steps that change sound waves in the air into electrical signals. The auditory nerve then carries these signals to the brain for us to understand. Watch the video to learn more about how we hear and check out the How We Hear fact sheet. 

Noise-induced hearing loss happens when tiny sensory hair cells (stereocilia) in the inner ear are damaged by noises that are too loud and/or last for too long. Most noise-induced hearing loss is caused by the damage and eventual death of these hair cells. This type of hearing loss is permanent.

Additional Quick Statistics on Hearing, Ear Infections, and Deafness can be found on the NIDCD website.

Sources

  1. Hoffman HJ, Ko C-W, Themann CL, Dillon CF, Franks JR. Reducing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) in adults to achieve U.S. Healthy People 2010 goals. Abstract. Am J Epidemiol. 2006 Jun (Suppl S);163(11):S122.
  2. Lin FR, Niparko JK, Ferrucci L. Hearing loss prevalence in the United States. [Letter] Arch Intern Med. 2011 Nov 14; 171(20): 1851–1852.