Can You Hear Me Now?: Earbuds, high volume music cause teen hearing loss

August 18, 2010 at 6:44 pm Leave a comment

When we see a car drive up next with the bass and volume turned up so much that the cars around us are bouncing, we smirk, because we know that those folks are going to have hearing loss later in life. But while we consider hearing loss among adults who ought to know better something we can smirk at, a study released on Tuesday (as show on CBS News) is just plain alarming: 30 percent more of today’s teens have some sort of hearing loss, as opposed to their peers in the last decade.

So maybe teenagers aren’t necessarily tuning out adults; they simply might not be able to hear them.

This hearing loss can affect learning, speech perception, social skills development and self-image. This recent research asserts that one in every five teens has at least a slight hearing loss, with one in every 20 teens showing a more severe loss in their hearing. The study did not identify a cause for the increased hearing loss specifically, and the teenagers did not identify any significant changes in their exposure to loud noises. (The study’s authors say teenagers often underestimate their noise exposure.) Many experts suspect the primary cause is the use of using earbuds or headphones to listen to portable music.

The authors of the report in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. eliminated ear infections and exposure to loud noises in the environment as causes for the hearing loss: could it be those headphones teens are always wearing?

A recent Australian study also found a 70% increased risk of hearing loss associated with the use of headphones to listen to portable music. As a sound hits the ear/inner ear, nerves are triggered by hairs in the ear canal. With high and prolonged exposure, teens maybe destroying these triggers and their ability to discern certain decibels of sound. Think about it: a normal conversation is about 60 decibels, whereas the music from an ipod or MP3 player can range 100 to 120 decibels. OSHA notes that exposure to noise levels of 110 decibels for more than 30 minutes requires ear protection in workplaces, so this earbud/headphone theory has some merit.

Researchers say the results are cause for concern because hearing problems worsen with age and can have a significant impact on a teenagers ability to learn, so turn it down teens. Save your hearing and pay attention to your volume.

Want more info: Check out The Los Angeles Times

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Entry filed under: Kids, Parents, OneSeventeen Media, Technology, Social Media, Research. Tags: , , , .

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