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Teenage Hearing Loss on the Rise

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Teenage hearing loss in the U.S, is on the rise, with recent studies indicating 1 in 5 teenagers exhibiting at least a slight hearing loss.  This 30% increase in teenage hearing loss since the early 1990's is due in large part to the ever-present earbuds attached to smartphones and portable music players.

Teens are more likely to engage in risky hearing behaviors, including listening to loud music and using lawn and power tools with no hearing protection. The findings also revealed that teens are aware of the risks, yet still choose not to protect their hearing. 

Slight hearing damage in teenage years puts teenagers at risk for accelerated hearing loss later in life.  Educating children from an early age about the risks of unsafe listening practices can save them from significant, permanent hearing loss later in life.  The good news is that with these few simple steps, teenagers (and everyone else) can modify their listening behavior and protect their hearing: 

  • Prevention:  Stop it before it starts!  Prevention is the best way to deal with noise-induced hearing loss.  Using headphones instead of earbuds keeps some of the direct sound out of teens’ ears.  Ear protection should be used consistently in loud environments like concerts, sporting events and when operating power equipment.
  • Stop future damage: If teens do experience symptoms like ringing or buzzing in their ears, they should immediately turn down the volume, wear ear protection, or see a hearing care professional.
  • Help a friend: Teens should warn one another if they’re putting their hearing at risk. If you can hear your neighbor’s music over the headphones, it’s too loud.
  • Custom ear protection:  For teens who play in bands or shoot firearms, custom hearing protection is ideal.  Contact a hearing professional for guidance on the best custom hearing protection device for your particular needs.