Nearly half of teens at risk for hearing loss
If you’re having trouble convincing your teenagers to turn down the volume on their MP3 players, a new study from Siemens Hearing Instruments and Dallas-based ReRez Research may help your case.
According to the research, 46 percent of teenagers reported “ringing, roaring, buzzing or pain in their ears after engaging in risky hearing practices, including listening to excessively loud music and using lawn and power tools with no hearing protection.” That’s nearly half of the U.S. teenaged population and the cause is attributable to common everyday activities.
The risks can come from plenty of sources; everyone is quick to blame hearing loss on digital music players and concerts, but sometimes parents are negligent, too. Think about it: have you ever given your son a pair of earplugs before sending him out to mow the lawn? Lawn mowers clock in at 90 decibels (db), which is above the recommended noise level for extended exposure. Do your kids work summer jobs? If they work in construction, or somewhere with comparable sound levels, like an Abercrombie & Fitch store, their hearing could be in danger.
Furthermore, 88 percent of teenagers reported engaging in activities they knew were potentially harmful to their hearing. The good news here is that teens are likely aware of the danger they’re exposing themselves too, so you’ve already won half the battle. The study found 78 percent of teens responded that their parents would instruct them to alter their habits if they found out how excessive the noise level was.
These findings reinforce the well-known statistics that Healthy Hearing frequently cites. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 12.5 percent of adolescents between the ages of 6 and 19 have some form of permanent, noise-induced hearing loss. Your teenagers might take the dangers of excessive noise more seriously if they knew 5.2 million teenagers just like them around the country have suffered noise-induced hearing loss.
The consequences of teen hearing loss
The hearing process is essential to cognitive development and therefore more important to children and adolescents. Hearing loss can impair teenagers’ ability to learn, and if left untreated, can slow them down in school. Discuss the potential for hearing loss with your teenagers, and let them know to come to you if they’re experiencing any symptoms, such as frequently misunderstanding people when they speak, needing the volume on the television louder than normal, struggling to understand in class and feeling tired after straining to hear for an extended period of time.
While hearing tests are usually performed in school on a routine basis, if any of your children are exhibiting signs of hearing loss, don’t hesitate to take them in to see a hearing health practitioner on your own. Hearing are readily available online as well if you need help deciding whether further check-up is necessary.
If any of your children do have hearing loss, have them outfitted for hearing aids as soon as possible. Inform their teachers about your child’s condition, and make sure your child has access to all the help and resources he or she might need while they adjust to living with hearing loss and becoming familiar with their hearing aids. It generally takes several months for someone to become comfortable with wearing hearing aids, and it could take children and teenagers a little longer. If they’re struggling to adapt, try easing them in by only making them wear the hearing aids in class at first, then gradually extending it to a full day.
In actuality, for many people, hearing loss can start as early as your teen years. The ability to hear one of the highest frequencies, 20,000 Hz, typically evaporates as a teenager. You continue to lose subsequent degrees of high-frequency hearing ability into your twenties. Since so much of your hearing ability is finite, it's imperative to preserve it as long as possible.