Dr. Fligor’s Pandemic-Era Insights Offer Key Guidance Today

During the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of at-home time also meant quite a bit of headphone time. The increase in headphone use combined with potentially unsafe listening habits could jeopardize hearing health, putting some of the most vulnerable ears — kids’ and young adults’ ears — at risk.


Our own Dr. Brian Fligor, sought out by the New York Times and others for salient advice during that challenging period, offered key insights that continue to serve as crucial guideposts today. Two of the most important tips: understanding the importance of prevention and heeding the potential warning signs of trouble.


More than a billion people ages 12 to 35 are vulnerable to hearing loss from overexposure to recreational sounds including loud music, according to the World Health Organization.  And some suspect the significantly higher rate of teen hearing loss, reportedly up 30% from two decades ago, may be partly attributable to greater headphone use.


As  Dr. Fligor shared in the Times story, also referenced by online outlet Lifehacker, regular hearing evaluations — at least every three years — play a critical role in staying atop a child’s health. Early intervention not only can help curb hearing loss but may also aid in heading off complications that can go along with it, such as social isolation, developmental delays, and academic problems.


What’s the best way for your child to use headphones? Sparingly and at lower volumes. Though 85 decibels marks the general danger-zone threshold for harmful volumes, even some lower levels can potentially do damage with extended exposure. The louder the sound and the longer it lasts, however, the greater the potential risk of hearing injury.

Consider these helpful tips for safer headphone use among kids:

  • Turn down the sound — headphones at their highest volume can easily register 96 to 110 decibels, well beyond 85 decibels.
  • Use volume-limiting headphones and set volume limits on the devices, checking to ensure the settings are working.
  • Monitor device time, making sure usage represents only a small fraction of the child’s day and week, including instituting device-free periods and zones.
  • Consider the 60/60 rule, limiting headphone use to a maximum of 60 minutes daily at 60% or less of the device’s maximum volume.
  • Ensure the device is used on both ears rather than just one ear, helping reduce the temptation to turn up the volume.

Does your child say “What?” often or complain of ear pain or ringing in the ears (tinnitus)? It could mean a hearing loss, so don’t wait. If you suspect a hearing issue or it’s been a while since your child’s last hearing checkup, contact our expert team for an appointment today. We’re HEAR to help!

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