Is Your Teen at Risk for Permanent Hearing Loss?

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Your teen's favorite song comes on the radio and they just have to turn up the volume all the way, right? Well, there’s a good reason why they shouldn’t. 

Some 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe use of personal audio devices, according to the World Health Organization. Hearing impairment can lead to physical and mental health problems.

Researchers at WHO collected data from teens and young adults ages 12-35. They found that nearly 50 percent are exposed to unsafe levels of sound from personal audio devices (like iPods or smartphones) and around 40 percent from potentially damaging levels at entertainment venues.

Dr Etienne Krug, WHO Director for the Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention explains further:

As they go about their daily lives doing what they enjoy, more and more young people are placing themselves at risk of hearing loss. They should be aware that once you lose your hearing, it won’t come back. Taking simple preventive actions will allow people to continue to enjoy themselves without putting their hearing at risk.

Hearing impairment depends on how loud the sound is and how long you listen. WHO recommends listening to your iPod for only one hour per day and not raising the volume on your headphones to more than 60 percent.

One surprising fact about headphone use is that listening to music at maximum volume can impair hearing in just four minutes. This impairment can be permanent.

Headphones aren’t all bad for your auditory health. The best headphones to use are over-ear or noise-canceling because they encourage teens to turn down the volume. People often turn up the volume so that their music is proportionally louder than background noise, so if there’s little or no background noise, teens will be less likely to turn up the sound.

You can help protect your teens’ ears by encouraging them to use noise-canceling headphones and only listening to music for an hour at a time. You can also help by reminding them to wear earplugs to loud concerts. Educate your teens about safe listening and the dangers of exposing themselves to loud noise for too long. They’ll thank you later.