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Hearing Loss On The Rise Among Teens

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Hearing loss seems to be a growing concern among teenagers, who spend a lot of time with earbuds or earphones stuck to their heads, listening to loud music, recent studies show.

Tinnitus, a ringing in the ears, is one of the first symptoms that a person is losing his or her hearing, especially among the younger generation, US News reports. According to Dr. Hugh Sims, an ear, nose and throat doctor with Med Center Health, the incidences in hearing loss have been on the rise in recent years.

“We’re seeing much higher rates of hearing loss in teenagers and young adults because of ear buds and listening devices. It damages the hair cells in the inner ear,” Sims says.

A study shows that 30 to 50 percent of teens are starting to show signs of mild hearing loss. It’s a lot more than you used to see.

Going to loud concerts, listening to music for prolonged periods and being a musician may all contribute to noise-induced hearing loss. A study conducted by the Australian government found that 20% of participants plugged into portable music devices and listened at potentially damaging levels. In the Netherlands, a similar study revealed that 50% of teenagers who use earphones put them on high volume settings, and only 7% used noise-limiting devices.

Sims says there is a 60/60 rule that people should follow when it comes to hearing devices. “If you’re listening to an iPod, you don’t want to have it over 60 percent volume, and if you’re listening to it for a long period of time you want to take a break every 60 minutes,” he explains. “If you listen to loud music you have no way to regulate it. You have to be cautious. That’s where the 60/60 rule comes in.”

It’s also important to protect hearing when around noise, such as factories do for their workers. For example, using ear protection around things like lawn mowers or leaf blowers lowers the chances of hearing loss, Sims says.

“If you can hear somebody else’s music, it’s too loud,” he adds. “Take a few minutes to give those ears time to take a break.”

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