Hearing Loss Among Our Teens

Hearing Loss Among Our Teens

It’s a simple statement to say that we live in a much louder world today, but with that come consequences that aren’t so simple. Hearing loss is affecting every generation, in fact, 1 in 5 Americans has hearing loss.

But did you know that 1 in 8 children and teens has permanent hearing loss due to high-volume sounds? Did you know that teen hearing loss has increased 30% in the last decade alone? According to the Journal of Pediatrics, 12.5 percent of kids between the ages of 6 and 19 suffer from loss of hearing as a result of using ear phones/buds turned to a high volume setting.

The high cost of technology. Portable music players have been around for decades, but the technology in MP3 players allows users to listen longer because music is so accessibly stored on their device and the ear buds deliver sound directly into the ear canal, eliminating other sounds.

Hearing loss can result from damage to structures and/or nerve fibers in the inner ear that respond to sound. This type of hearing loss, termed “noise-induced hearing loss,” is usually caused by exposure to excessively loud sounds and cannot be medically or surgically corrected. Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) can result from a one-time exposure to a very loud sound, blast, or impulse, or from listening to loud sounds over an extended period.

A half hour is all it takes … yet hearing loss lasts forever.  NIHL can be caused by prolonged exposure to over 85 dB; in just a half an hour of loud sounds can start to damage a person’s ears. When a teen listens to their MP3 player at 70% of its maximum volume, it is about 85dB!

What can be done?  Teach the teens in your life about hearing loss. Give them guidelines – no more than 60 percent of maximum volume for no more than an hour. Headphones are safer than ear buds. When mowing the lawn, use ear protection and when at concerts or a loud sporting event, make putting in foam ear plugs a popular trend. If you experience hearing loss, share your story with them…let them know what it is like to live with hearing loss.

Click here to watch a short video from Starkey Hearing Foundation and their Listen Carefully Campaign.

NIHL information gathered from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.