Hearing loss rises 70% in 15 years among adolescents

In Europe devices have limitations imposed by EU law.

Listening to music reminds me of some of the most relaxing and inspiring times in my life.

When I was younger, I remember going to concerts where the music was so loud all I could hear was ringing in my ears for hours after. Some might remember the days when your options were a radio or tape player the size of a large handbag with a single earphone to listen to music. Today, there is a wide range of options. New technologies allow portable, almost unlimited music storage and battery life. It is concerning that today’s children and youth are listening more than twice as long as previous generations and using new ear buds that can deliver deafening sound to both ears.

Findings from a study published in the Aug. 18, 2010, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that one in five adolescents has some evidence of hearing loss, while one in 20 has at least mild hearing loss. Dr. Josef Shargorodsky and a team of researchers looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys of adolescents from across the U.S., ages 12-19. Compared with data from the survey from 1988-1994, there has been a marked 30 percent increase in prevalence of any hearing loss, and a 70 percent increase in mild or worse hearing loss in the past 15 years.

Hearing loss from loud noise exposure is usually preventable. One way to safeguard your hearing is by making a few simple changes to the volume of your music player. To help preserve hearing, adults and youths alike should aim at between one-half and two-thirds of the maximum volume on the music player. Many music players come with a volume limiter that lets you lower the maximum volume level of your player so you can’t accidentally boost it too high. This can also be a great help for parents to ensure that their children listen at safe levels.

Sound intensity is measured in units called decibels (dB), according to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders. Sounds that reach between 105 db (the maximum volume on a personal stereo device) and 110 db (the sound intensity coming from concert speakers) can damage hearing permanently. Noise above 75 db (noise from city traffic, a power mover, or a power drill) for long periods can have a lasting negative effect on hearing. Sounds of less than 75 dB, even after long exposure, are unlikely to cause hearing loss.

Taking steps to prevent hearing loss can save children and youths from future difficulties: inability to hear teachers, instructions on the job, and friends and family. A simple solution is to bring the volume down.

I still listen to music even though I am no longer able to hear many of the sweet sounds. My father always told me to protect my hearing. Coming from a gentleman who lost hearing in one ear when he was young, I should have listened more. Enjoy the gift of hearing. It is possible to keep the volume at a manageable level without sacrificing the enjoyment and impact of your music. This simple message can be a challenge for parents to get across to youth, but it is a reminder I hope many will hear.

If you have any questions about hearing loss contact Hidden Hearing.

by Enrique Mata – Guest Columnist with the El Paso Times:

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