Written by: Dr. Phoebe Clouser, AuD
We live in a very noisy world, whether it’s traffic on the street, listening to music over headphones, or blow drying your hair. Noise can be a large contributor to hearing loss in both adults and teenagers. According to a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, the number of teenagers with hearing loss has increased 33% in the last 20 years. The number of MP3s, iPods and cell phones has also increased. We frequently see teenagers listening to their headphones on the bus, working out at the gym or while they do homework. Prolonged exposure to this type of noise, especially if it is above 80 dB, can cause hearing loss.
Even a slight hearing loss can have detrimental impacts on a child’s academic success and social interaction. If it seems like they are ignoring you (more than usual), it is possible they simply aren’t hearing you. Other potential indicators of a hearing loss could include difficulty following directions, a delay with speech development, listening to television or music very loudly and frequently requesting repetition. Because of the significant increase in teenage hearing loss and the potential impacts of leaving it untreated, it is very important to have your child’s hearing assessed.
It is also important to monitor the volume of what they are listening. Be proactive. If you can overhear what your child is listening to on their headphones, IT IS TOO LOUD. There are also many applications on your smartphone that can actually measure the volume in the room. Educate your child on potentially harmful volumes and instruct them to listen in moderation. Noise is not just from headphones. Be aware of the radio volume in the car, the television and even how close they sit to the high school band.
We know certain noisy events are unavoidable and that’s why we are also recommending custom ear plugs for your teenager. Custom earplugs come in all sorts of fun colors and are molded specifically to their ear. They are comfortable and will protect their ears from future hearing loss and tinnitus. Explain to your kids that hearing loss should not be ignored. It’s time to turn it down.