Turn Down That Music!

Your teenager may be ruining his or her hearing. A study published November 21, 2013 in JAMA Otolaryngology showed that over 96 percent of parents surveyed did not appreciate the risk to their teen’s hearing due to excessive noise exposure.

The risk is real

Data suggests that 1 out of 6 teens will experience hearing loss in their lifetime due to excessive noise exposure. To make matters worse, a study, conducted by Deepa L. Sekhar, MD, at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center surveyed over 700 parents of children 13 to 17 years old and found that  nearly 70 percent of parents never talked to their child about noise exposure and hearing risk.

The noisiest offenders

The loudest noise exposures for teens seem to be personal music devices (e.g., MP3 players), music concerts, and lawn mowers. Both the volume of the sound, as well as the total duration of exposure, play a role in causing hearing loss. Exposure to noise over 85 decibels (dB) can result in hearing loss. Apparently, some MP3 players can attain 110dB, while lawn mowers can reach 106dB.

How can you prevent hearing loss?

  • Activate the volume limiter on personal listening devices. Apparently, most of these gadgets have this control, but teens rarely activate it.
  • Buy volume-limiting headphones for your teens.
  • Make sure that teens use earplugs when attending concerts or mowing the lawn.
  • Don’t combine two loud activities (such as mowing a lawn while listening to music through headphones).

Parents can help by discussing with teens the risks of hearing loss and encouraging them to be aware and exercise some volume controls. 

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