For years now, hearing loss experts have been voicing their concern over the rising rate of hearing loss among teenagers. In part these fears are related to a 2010 study showing that the number of teens suffering from noise-induced hearing loss was poised to skyrocket in the coming years. Thankfully, subsequent research has shown that those fears were perhaps overstated. In fact, there are even some recent studies that suggest the rate of hearing loss for young people hasn't increased at all over the last 20 years.
Still, there is no debating the science behind the underlying fears. Noise-induced hearing loss occurs when your ears are exposed to excessively loud sounds, typically in excess of 80 decibels, for extended periods of time. Thanks to the rise in smartphones, tablets and other personal listening devices, the majority of teens are spending at least some portion of every day listening to headphones. And sadly, almost all of the devices on the market today are capable of emitting sounds well in excess of 80 decibels.
Without question, the risk is still there. So how should you and your family protect your hearing?
For starters, experts recommend following the 60/60 rule. To be on the safe side, you should limit your listening time on personal devices to around 60 minutes a day, at no more than 60% volume. By following this rule, you can ensure that your ears aren't exposed to sounds that are loud enough to permanently damage your hearing.
But it isn't just personal devices that can cause hearing loss. Any kind of excessive exposure to harmful noise levels can cause damage to the tiny hair-like cells in your inner ear that allow you to take in sounds. To avoid this damage, you should always be mindful of the environment around you. In particular, if you frequent noisy establishments, like as music venues, or work in loud environments, such as construction, then you need to take measures to protect your hearing.
Also, it's important to remember that even though more recent research points to hearing loss rates stabilizing, there is no guarantee that they won't go up again. In fact, one recent study using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey only looked at two years' worth of data, between 2008 and 2010. There is no doubt that there has been a proliferation of personal listening devices since then, so the study may not necessarily be accurate by today's standards.
Remember, noise-induced hearing loss can happen to anyone, including teenagers. So make sure you and your family are constantly monitoring the sound levels around you and take steps to limit your exposure to harmful noise pollution.
If you or anyone you know would like more information about hearing loss, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!