Baby Boomers Suffer Higher Percentage of Hearing Loss

Health officials say as much as 40 percent of baby boomers are suffering hearing loss.

“Your hearing appears stable, but you have suffered a mild to moderate hearing loss,”Director of Audiology Karen Mitchell said.

Mitchell is performing a checkup exam on 50-year-old Jay Blakeslee at the Columbus Speech and Hearing Center.

In fact, Blakeslee’s hearing loss is about 40 percent. He has worn hearing aids since his early 40s.

Blakeslee admits he spent his young adult days living in a loud world.

He said he played his cassette tapes on his Walkman and he played them loudly.

I had a roommate that loved to throw firecrackers into the bathroom when I was in there. It was very loud, and he did it a number of times,” Blakeslee said.

Blakeslee is not alone.

Health officials say as much as 40 percent of baby boomers are suffering hearing loss.

Dr. Mitchell said she has seen a definite spike among baby boomers during her 30 years at center.

A study between 1970 and 1991 showed 26 percent more people in the boomer-age range had hearing lossin ’91 compared to 1970. Boomers were the first to grow up with high-volume recreational noise exposure from concerts, blasting stereos, walkmans that we could crank up or other loud pastimes such as car races,Mitchell said.

The study was completed before iPods, MP3 players and the close-to-the-eardrum earbud headphones that are now standard equipment.

“They can produce a lot of sound pressure directly on the eardrum and into the inner ear. When you are using these devices for an extended amount of time above 95 decibels, damage can occur. It’s a cumulative effect, and once you have hearing loss due to noise exposure, that hearing loss is permanent,” Mitchell said.

You can purchase earbuds that will automatically control the volume.

Mitchell said there are three simple things you and your teens can do to protect your hearing: Back away from loud noise, turn it down and wear ear protection.

Mitchell said keeping your MP3 player turned up only halfway probably will keep the volume to a nondamaging level for extended use.

May is National Speech and Hearing Month, and the Columbus Speech and Hearing Center will offer free volume checks for people who use MP3 players.

For further information check Hidden Hearing

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