Blame Technology for Rise in Hearing Loss Among Younger People

Noise-induced hearing loss is on the rise among adolescents in Burbank. It’s already one of the leading causes of hearing impairment in people of all ages but has become especially prevalent in younger people. Experts believe technology is to blame for this upward trend.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

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Noise-induced hearing loss is the result of permanent damage to the hair cells in the cochlea that are responsible for processing sounds. Noise that exceeds 85 decibels (dB) can destroy these nerve cells; the louder the sound, the less permissible exposure time you have. At 85 dB hearing loss can occur after eight hours, but at 100 dB, it only takes 15 minutes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 17 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 19 experience noise-induced hearing loss in one or both ears. Much of the blame can be traced to music and the popularity of earbuds. Streaming services make listening to music on the go much easier than before; there are no bulky boomboxes or Walkmans to carry around and it’s a lot more economical than buying CDs.

Kids who join band are more likely to experience hearing loss, as well – particularly if they play noisy instruments like drums. It’s important that music teachers provide hearing protection to students, so check with your child to make sure earplugs are provided.

Other activities that contribute to noise-induced hearing loss in adolescents include concerts, sporting events and recreational pursuits involving dirt bikes, jet skis, snowmobiles and other equipment with a noisy engine.

Prevention is Key

Stressing the importance of hearing protection now is the best way to prevent irreversible hearing damage in the future. You can’t turn back the hands of time and wish technology away, but you can encourage good listening habits. Your Burbank audiologist recommends instructing your teen to set the volume level at no more than 60 percent of maximum and to take frequent breaks so their ears can rest. If you can hear your kids’ music despite the fact that they are wearing earbuds, it’s too loud!

Make sure your kids wear earplugs any time they are going to participate in noisy activities. Regular foam earplugs are okay, but for better protection, custom molded plugs are the best way to go.

For more tips on protecting your adolescents’ hearing, talk to your audiologist in Burbank today.