Experienced parents know teens often don’t listen. Increasingly, though, the trouble may come not from their stubborn personalities but from their inner ears. It is estimated that one in six teens have noise related hearing loss—and most parents don’t have a clue.
Thanks to constant ear bud use and booming live concerts, hearing loss now affects more teens than obesity does. But in a national survey of 716 parents of 13-17 year olds over 96% said their teen faced little to no risk of hearing difficulties from excessive noise, and only 31% had ever discussed the risks of loud noise with their children.
That said, parents educated about hearing loss were willing to take steps to protect their child’s hearing. More than 65% said they would consider limiting their teen’s music-listening time or insist they wear earplugs in risky situations.
Teens often lose the ability to hear high-pitched sounds first. If they continue to listen to loud music, they may develop a temporary or permanent ringing and feeling of fullness in their ears. Eventually, voices may sound muffled or distorted.
If you notice these signs in your teen, talk with his or her doctor. The doctor—or an audiologist—can test your child’s hearing and discuss treatment.
Sounds louder than 85 decibels pose a risk for temporary or permanent noise-induced hearing loss, experts say, but some headphones can max out at 110 decibels. Tell your teen to set the volume at about 60% and to limit their listening time to 60 minutes a day. You shouldn’t be able to hear the music coming out of your child’s headphones—and he or she should still be able to hear you.
Also watch out for other loud noise sources. The average rock music performance clocks in at 110 decibels. This can harm teens’ hearing after just half an hour. Earplugs reduce the damage.
For more on how loud is too loud, consult the government’s Interactive Sound Ruler.
Ask your Rite Aid Pharmacist for more information about teen hearing loss.
“Acoustic Trauma - Hearing Loss in Teenagers.” American Academy of Pediatrics, July 1, 2013. www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/ear-nose-throat/pages/Acoustic-Trauma-Hearing-Loss-in-Teenagers.aspx.
“Headphones and Hearing Loss (Audio).” American Academy of Pediatrics, July 1, 2013. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/ear-nose-throat/Pages/Headphones-and-Hearing-Loss.aspx
“Interactive Sound Ruler.” National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, Sept. 13, 2011. www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/education/decibel/Pages/default.aspx.
“Music: How Loud is Too Loud?” American Academy of Pediatrics, May 11, 2013. www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/ear-nose-throat/Pages/Music-How-Loud-is-Too-Loud.aspx.
“Parental Perspectives on Adolescent Hearing Loss Risk and Prevention.” D. L. Sekhar et al. JAMA Otolaryngoly Head & Neck Surgery. November 21, 2013, online ahead of print. http://archotol.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1775609.
“Hearing Loss in Children: Screening and Diagnosis.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. July 16, 2012. www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/hearingloss/screening.html.