Hearing loss is becoming more common in teens, yet it’s been said that more studies are needed to determine why so many teenagers are suffering from hearing loss. Are you kidding me? The cause is obvious: Can you say MP3 and iPod?
Not only that, but more young people today have “boom boxes” and other high tech sound systems in their cars than they did a generation ago, not to mention that a higher percentage of teens today have their own cars!
From an intuitive, common-sense point of view, I don’t see why any audiologist (hearing expert) would think that more research is needed to get to the root of teen hearing loss. The writing is clearly on the wall, and in big letters: Today’s teens live in an environment that’s louder than ever before.
How often do you see young people with a headset? You can bet that the volume is very high, especially when they can’t hear you or someone else calling their name. They are glued to their cell phones and often speak loudly into them; the listener, another teen, has a cell phone very close to their ears. That’s more loud noise.
And then there’s the rash of young recording stars attracting throngs of teens to their concerts: Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift, and Justin Bieber, to name a few. By the way, 10,000 choir boys can sing circles around Justin Bieber; what a travesty that this mediocre-voiced lad nets $300,000 per concert.
But back to hearing loss among teenagers. A Dutch study, as well as American studies, show that many teens know the cause and effect relationship between high volume and damaged ears, but continue to crank up their iPods anyways because (surprise!) these kids believe they’re immune to hearing loss!
Teenagers think that only “old people” get bad hearing. However, the damaged hearing in Gramps began decades ago when he was much younger, perhaps during high school! Even “back then,” the potential harm of loud noise existed: live bands, night clubs, ball games, movie theatres, factory work, motorcycles and machinery in Gramps’ workshop.
Teens are no more immune to hearing loss than they are to pimples.
Most college students play their iPods and MP3s too loud, says another study, from Children’s Hospital Boston and City University of New York. Another American study reports that 20 percent of teenagers have some hearing loss. This information is derived from data from a survey that was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If the fact that one in five teens has this preventable problem is still hard to believe, it’s primarily because it is painless. The teen with dulled hearing simply says, “What?” when he or she can’t decipher words. Noise induced hearing loss tends to be insidious, occurring over time, often years. The ability to detect high frequency sounds goes first. This is why people with hearing loss have trouble discerning the speech of children and women (who speak at higher frequencies than men) more than they do of men.
Many medical conditions can be reversed. Hearing loss is not one of them! Some teens freak over the appearance of a pimple, but trust me, when it’s time to get hearing aids, you’ll wish you can trade your permanent hearing impairment with a dozen huge pimples.