Does your child or teen not listen to what you say? Don’t be too quick to assume they’re being disrespectful or rebellious – it may be their hearing. A new study looking at hearing loss in children and teens found that a whopping one in five kids between the ages of twelve and nineteen has some loss of hearing.
Hearing Loss in Children and Teens: It’s More Common than You Think
Researchers looked at data from a large health trial that included both kids and teens. In this study, audiometry was done to check for high and low frequency hearing loss. When they compared the results to a previous trial, they found that hearing loss in children and teens had risen about thirty percent over a seventeen year period.
Previously, the rate of hearing loss among older kids and teens was fifteen percent, but that’s grown to one in five. (a thirty percent increase). High-frequency hearing loss, the inability to hear high-pitched sounds, was more common than low-frequency hearing loss in this study, but both were more frequent than they were seventeen years ago. The number of kids and teens who had significant hearing loss, as opposed to just mild hearing problems, had also increased.
What’s Responsible for the Rise in Loss of Hearing among Kids and Teens?
The researchers in this study couldn’t determine the cause for hearing loss in children and teens from this study because of the way the study was designed. They did conclude that the increase in hearing loss couldn’t be blamed on ear infections.
Not surprisingly, some experts speculate that loss of hearing among young people comes from listening to music using earphones. Even short periods of exposure to noise so close to the ear can be harmful, especially when teens crank up the volume. Kids and teens are listening to more music through earphones these days than they did in the past, which could account for their “bad hearing”.
The Consequences of Hearing Loss in Children and Teens
Loss of hearing can significantly impact a kid’s life. It can affect a child’s academic performance at school. It’s hard to absorb information when you can’t hear what the teacher is saying. It can also hamper a teen’s social life. High-frequency hearing loss is especially concerning since it can make it difficult to distinguish certain words from one another.
The bottom line? Encourage kids and teens to limit the amount of time they listen to music using headphones to less than an hour a day – and keep the volume down.
Family Practice News. September 15, 2010. Page 48.