Hearing Loss on the Rise in Teens

Date posted: August 19, 2016

Senior citizens are the first people to come to mind when you think of hearing loss, but recent reports have hearing professionals worried teenagers will soon outnumber aging adults when it comes to living with hearing loss.

The rise in popularity of personal audio devices from iPods to smart phones has had detrimental affects on the ears of those who use them the most, teenagers! Data studied by the World Health Organization found that nearly 50% of teens frequently expose themselves to unsafe levels of sound. Across the globe that means 1.1 billion teenagers are at risk of suffering hearing loss.

A sound is considered unsafe when it exceeds 85 dB, at that level it takes just 8 hours of listening over your lifetime to cause damage. The louder the sound the less time it takes to cause damage. Because hearing loss is typically considered a health issue for the elderly, it is difficult to convince already stubborn teenagers that they really are doing irreversible damage to their ears.

Young adults who have been exposed to loud noise over a period of time may complain of ringing in the ears (also known as tinnitus) or of a sensation of fullness, as if their ears are plugged.  These symptoms are usually associated with hearing loss.

Teenagers often seem to be in their own world, not paying attention to what’s happening at home or in school, making it so that their hearing loss goes undiagnosed for some time. But when teens are truly having trouble hearing, action should be taken so that the condition doesn’t worsen. For infants, children and teens, even minor hearing loss can make communication difficult, and can have long-lasting consequences.  A young person’s self-image may be negatively affected by hearing loss, their ability to learn may be compromised, and teenagers with hearing loss may experience difficulty developing social skills.

If you think you may know someone suffering from hearing loss we can help you connect with a trusted hearing professional to get help.

In an effort to help teens better protect their hearing we recommend setting volume limits on personal audio devices. It is also good to limit the amount of time exposed to noise and take listening breaks to give your ears a rest. The WHO suggests restricting daily use of personal audio devices to less than one hour and getting regular hearing check-ups.

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