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Headphones and Music Devices to Blame for Lost Hearing in Teenagers

As cell phones become more and more advanced, teenagers have gained the ability to “plug in” to their own personal soundtrack as they walk to class, do homework, and even drive. However, a new study shows that the excessive noise levels from personal audio devices significantly contributes to hearing loss in over 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults.

Headphones and Personal Audio Devices Encourage Teen Hearing Loss

According to a recent hearing loss study by the World Health Organization (WHO), about half of all teenagers and adults aged 12 to 35 are exposed to unsafe levels of sound from personal audio devices such as digital music players. In addition, 40 percent of people in this age group suffer hazardous levels of sound at entertainment venues, including bars, dance clubs, concerts, and sporting events.

Hearing loss poses crucial health risks for young adults, including educational difficulties, loss of employment opportunities, and even impaired mental health. Prolonged exposure to loud noises can result in tinnitus (ringing in the ears), which can progress into eventual and irreversible hearing loss.

WHO recommends that teenagers and other at-risk adults can enjoy their favorite activities without suffering hearing damage by limiting:

  • Duration. Exposure to noise levels of 100 decibels—considered an intense level of sound—is not safe for longer than 15 minutes at a time, the organization concludes. Young adults are encouraged limit the time spent in noisy venues by restricting their use of personal audio devices to an hour at a time, and by taking frequent listening breaks to give their ears a rest.
  • Intensity. Teens should also monitor the volume level of their environments and the music blaring from their headphones. Many smartphone apps can give a reading of the decibel level in the room (85 dB and below is recommended), and noise-canceling headphones and volume locks on phones can also help young people protect their hearing.
  • Frequency. Young people who work in noisy venues, such as bars and nightclubs, have less control over their environment than patrons do. While WHO dictates that the highest permissible level of noise exposure in the workplace is 85 dB (at a maximum of eight hours per day), many employers do not heed this recommendation. Both employees and patrons may opt for custom earplugs (switched from the left to right ear during shifts) and taking breaks outside or in quiet areas to give their ears a rest.

Remember: once your hearing ability is lost, there is no way to make it come back. Adults of all ages should undergo regular hearing check-ups to stop the progression of hearing loss as soon as possible. Call the number on this page to make an appointment with our hearing care specialists today!