don't hear you. Studies show a huge jump, about 1 in 5, of adolescents
now experience some amount of hearing loss. Some experts say today's
high tech, high volume gadgetry could be contributing to the problem.
It's true. We live in a noisy world, and in an effort to trade unwanted
sound for something a little easier on the ears, ipods and earbuds are a
"I usually keep them in all the time almost," says teen Darren McClain.
Teens like McClain like to turn up the volume.
"It's usually all the way up," says McClain. "Basically to cut out
everything around me. Just helps me get in the mood for skateboarding."
Here's the problem: Approximately 36 million Americans have hearing
loss. 1/3 of those cases are noise induced. Some recent studies show the
number of teens diagnosed with noise induced hearing loss has jumped,
showing 12-15% have some sort of deficit.
"Listening devices, loud games are more popular and there are more of
them," says Vanderbilt Audiologist Dr. Krissie Rigsby. "There are more
kids and more teenagers being diagnosed with hearing loss than what we
were used to seeing in the past."
Dr. Rigsby says there's reason for parents and teens to be concerned.
"They're trying to block out us talking to hear their music so they're
cranking it up," says Dr. Rigsby. "Earbuds aren't bad. It's how loud
you're listening to it and how long you're listening to it."
Loudness is measured in decibels or "db". Prolongued exposure to any
loud noise over 85db can cause hearing loss. A few things that fall into
that category: alarm clocks, hair dryers, concerts, sporting events,
gunshots, stereos and mp3 players at high or full volume.
16 year old Kaleb Witt was diagnosed with hearing loss when he was just 3 years old.
"It's been hard," says Witt. "I could barely understand people."
Kaleb's condition is not noise induced but he has to take precautions
not to make his situation any worse. Dr. Rigsby is fitting Kaleb with a
special device so, like his friends, he can enjoy mp3 players. Kaleb
understands he must be diligent about volume control, something few of
his peers think about.
"Every time at school or during class, they always put it on and turn it
up as loud as they can so they won't have to listen to the teacher,"
Remember, it's alla bou thow loud and how long.
"What I tell parents when they ask me: There's a good rule," says Dr.
Rigsby. "The 60/60 rule. 60% volume for 60 minutes then give yourself a
Dr. Rigsby also says it's a good idea to ditch the earbuds and invest in
quality earphones. Always wear ear protection at concerts, and set the
volume limit on ipods. Parents often say kids don't listen, but experts
say the facts about noise-induced hearing loss are worth repeating.
Experts say if your child asks "what" or "huh" a lot, or if they
complain of ringing ears, get them checked out by an audiologist
immediately. Some people are more susceptible to hearing loss than
others. If you go to Apple's website, there are detailed instructions on
how to adjust the volume on your child's electronics.
Friday, February 10 2012, 06:13 PM CST
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