Can You Hear What I Hear?

Noise induced hearing loss a serious problem for teens

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Still doing last minute holiday shopping? A pair of volume-limiting headphones or ear-buds for your teen – and a conversation about hearing loss – can help protect their hearing.

Two-thirds of parents aren't talking to their teens about the causes and risks of losing their hearing from too much loud noise, according to a nationwide poll on children's health.

Among parents who report not talking to their teens about hearing loss, 78 percent also say they don't believe their teen is at risk, but the report points out that 1 in 6 U.S. teens has high-frequency hearing loss according to national data.

"Everyone should avoid loud sounds and volumes above 85 decibels."

This form of hearing loss, which is preventable but irreversible, occurs with too much exposure to sounds above 85 decibels, also the upper limit allowed by volume-limiting headphones or ear-buds.

Any sound over this limit can causing hearing loss, whether it's a single event like gunfire or repeated exposure to loud engines or machinery.

The report, from the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, is based on a survey in September, 2011, with 725 parents of children aged 13 to 17.

Dr. Deepa Sekhar, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Penn State College of Medicine and a collaborator on the report, said in materials released with the report that parents and teens need more education about protecting their ability to hear and suggested that family doctors can mention the topic to teens and their parents during regular check-ups.

Sarah Clark, associate director of the National Poll on Children's Health, said that teens may not realize they have hearing loss until it causes difficulties and frustration at school or in social situations because it affects their ability to understand and communicate with others.

The report found that more than half of the parents surveyed would be willing to purchase volume-limiting headphones for their kids, but only one third believe their child would actually use the headphones, which reduce typical maximum volume output by up to 40 percent.

Most parents who did discuss hearing loss with their children brought it up because their teen was playing music too loudly. Only 4 percent said a doctor had brought it up with them.

The National Poll on Children's Health is funded by the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases at the University of Michigan and the University of Michigan Health System.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 22, 2011
Last Updated:
December 24, 2011