Recently, the Centers for Disease Control released a staggering new study that estimates that 1 in 5 U. S. teens currently suffers from mild to moderate noise induced hearing losshttps://storify.com/Elien_R/introduction. These are children that were not born with genetic hearing defects, but instead, have been exposed to levels of sound over 85 decibels for long periods of time. This finding is surprising as noise induced hearing loss is nearly 100% preventable. There are many reasons for the increase of hearing loss among our children. Ear buds and MP3 players, loud movies, video games, loud toys, off-road vehicles, and concert venues, to name a few. The consequences of noise induced hearing loss can have a major impact on our children that will follow them into adulthood. In small children, it can lead to delays in speech and motor skills. In adolescents, studies have found that children with mild to moderate loss are more likely to have difficulty in the classroom and among their peers. This can lead to a decrease in productivity as well as social withdrawal and isolation http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2532893/. As adults, mild to moderate hearing loss can lead to severe or profound loss. This will effect a persons ability to qualify for certain jobs, communicate with loved ones, and can cause isolation and a diminished quality of life. So what do we do? The real issue, it seems, is a lack of education among health care professionals, educators, parents, and students. When a child has a disability, such as a genetic profound hearing loss, there is a clear path for treatment and assistance. When it comes to the more moderate noise induced hearing loss, there are few studies, screens, and interventions in place for our youth. However, prognosis is hopeful. Now that this issue is gaining ground and making headlines, more emphasis is being placed on taking preventative measures through education and we are slowly beginning to see a shift. A study conducted among 11th graders found that those kids whose word discrimination indicated high frequency hearing loss were willing to change the type of head phones they used to prevent further damage. They were also willing to commit to listening to music at a lower volume.
This is a positive indication that, through education, children are willing to advocate for their hearing health. So what can parents do to help?
Talk with your adolescents about using lower volume when listening to music on headphones or earbuds. The highest volume setting on headphones is too loud and can lead to hearing loss.
Talk with your child about wearing foam ear plugs when he or she goes
to loud concerts.
Talk with your child about using earmuffs if he or she does any loud recreational activities, such as riding on a snowmobile or hunting.
Talk with your school or pediatrician about screening for both high- and low-frequency hearing loss; many schools do not use a hearing screen that can test for high-frequency hearing loss related to noise.
For more information you can visit http://www.asha.org/buds/