Teenagers and Hearing Loss

earphonesHearing loss is the fastest growing health problems in the U.S. for young people. Why?  Because of the popularity of personal electronic devices that deliver loud sounds directly into the ear canals.

According to the Journal of Pediatrics, 12.5 percent of kids between the ages of 6 and 19 suffer from hearing loss as a result of using ear phones/buds turned to a high volume. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that exposure to sounds at 85 decibels of volume can cause damage to your hearing in less than eight hours. Most MP3 players with earphones can reach 85 decibels of volume at only 70% of peak volume.  When played at full volume MP3 players can typically create 100 decibels or more of volume which can cause permanent hearing damage in less than 15 minutes of listening.

In addition, ear buds exacerbate the danger of loud sounds because they are typically pushed directly into the ear canal where the loud sounds are not buffered by air.  Without the resistance of air to reduce some of the energy of the sound waves, the loud sounds are more likely to cause damage to hearing.

Listening to loud music is not the only danger to hearing.  Even most adults don’t realize how loud and damaging sounds can be when played through earphones or earbuds.  This can be especially dangerous for anyone that uses earphones while operating loud equipment such as a lawn mower.  Lawn mowers typically run around 90 decibels of volume.  In order to hear your music or audio book or podcast, you may not realize that you’ve turned the volume to 95 decibels or more.

The good news is there are small adjustments teens and any of us can make to reduce the chance of a hearing loss. Some simple things include switching to headphones instead of earbuds, taking breaks and listening at lower volume levels. If others can hear the music, it’s too loud.  And, if you do work around loud equipment, protect your hearing with earplugs.

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