This post is part of our “Hearing Loss is Not Harmless” series. This series of posts will walk through several common physical, mental and emotional health conditions that have been found to cause—or be caused by—hearing loss
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss and Teens
With smartphones and tablets in the hands of everyone from toddlers to seniors, you often also see the user sporting a pair of headphones or trendy earbuds to keep the rest of the world from hearing what they’re listening to.
While earbuds are a considerate gesture, the user—often a teenager or young adult—doesn’t realize that they’re damaging their own hearing in the process.
An estimated 16% of children and teens have noise-induced hearing damage, which is typically caused by one extremely loud sound or explosion, or by listening to loud sounds over an extended period of time.1
But how loud is too loud? A typical rock concert or sporting event reaches 100-110 dB2, which is considered safe for only 15-30 minutes at a time.3
In fact, noise-induced hearing loss is the only type of hearing loss that is 100% preventable. However, the WHO estimates another 1.1 billion (yes, billion with a B) teenagers and young adults are at risk of noise-induced hearing loss.3
So how do you protect against early hearing loss? Wear ear protection in extremely loud conditions—such as concerts, sporting events, car races, using lawnmowers or leaf-blowers—and keep earbud volume as low as possible when listening to music. If you can’t reduce a loud noise, move away from it.1
Pay attention to these signs of hearing loss in your teen: 2
- Difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds (and, eventually, lower pitches)
- Voices and other noises sound muffled and/or distorted
- Struggling to have conversations in environments with significant background noise
- Temporary or permanent ringing or buzzing in the ears (tinnitus)
Hearing loss can decrease a student’s language comprehension, communication, classroom learning and social development. If hearing loss remains untreated, the student’s academic performance will continue to deteriorate.4
Untreated hearing loss is more than just an inconvenience; it causes major physical, emotional and mental repercussions. Contact your local hearing health professional today if you’re worried about your teen’s hearing.
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1. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders <http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/noise.aspx> last accessed 2/25/16.
2. American Academy of Pediatrics <https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/ear-nose-throat/Pages/Acoustic-Trauma-Hearing-Loss-in-Teenagers.aspx> last accessed 2/25/16.
3. World Health Organization <http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/ear-care/en/> last accessed 2/25/16.
4. Centers for Disease Control <http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/noise/> last accessed 2/25/16.