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    Toys With All the Bells and Whistles Can Damage Hearing

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    Ilecki points out that anything over 90 decibels can potentially harm the ears -- especially if listened to for an extended period of time.

    He says it used to be a safe generalization that hearing loss caused by nerve damage was confined to adults. "But now there is so much more noise -- even more than 20 years ago," Ilecki says, and that puts everyone at risk.

    "An important message is that although some hearing losses are reversible, that is not the case with noise-induced hearing loss," Ilecki says -- and even worse, it's hard to spot. "I'm afraid that at the early stages symptoms would be so subtle you could not detect it behaviorally -- only instrumentally."

    He advises that parents whose children have noisy habits -- whether they are permanently hooked to headphones or have season concert tickets -- to have the children's hearing checked. "The good news is that this is something that is totally preventable," Ilecki says. "You're the master of your own destiny; once you know the relationship between noise and hearing loss you can prevent it."

    As for those holiday toys, Sutton says, if you can't talk over it, can't hear over it, or if it causes any pain or ringing in your ears -- don't use it.

    Vital Information:

    • Children's eardrums are more sensitive to noise because their hearing canals are shorter than those of adults.
    • Some toys can cause hearing damage, including musical instruments, stereo systems, video games, whistles, and toy phones.
    • Anything over 90 decibels can cause harm to the ears, and noise-induced hearing loss is not reversible.
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