Turned up – Tuned out


Hearing loss a growing problem among youth.

High volume and prolonged headphone use can damage your hearing, medical experts say.

Nearly 1 in 5 U.S. teens suffer from the same degree of hearing loss as adults in their 50s and 60s, according to the American Medical Association.

Students seem to be turning deaf ears to the many warnings from experts.

“My iPod is my best friend, it goes with me anywhere,” said Carlos Garcia, a Santa Ana College student. “It’s small, easy to carry around and most important, I can listen to music any time.”

Noise above 110 decibels can cause damage to nerve cells delivering electrical signals from the ears to the brain, according to a studyby University of Leicesterin the U.K.

Jet engines operate at about 110 decibels, the same volume as an MP3 player at nearly full blast. And damage can occur after 30 minutes of exposure per day, medical experts say.

Many students choose to listen to their favorite tunes as loud as 120 decibels despite these warnings.

Samantha Cervantes is another Santa Ana College student who frequently listens to music on her iPhone.

“I use my headphones every day” she said, and especially between classes. “Listening to my favorite music is a great way of distraction.”

Samantha is aware of the high risks that loud music might bring to her hearing, so she is careful with the dial.

“Most of the times I try to keep the volume low. My hearing might be affected and others don’t need to know what I’m listening to.

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At the gym I do bump up the volume.”

But not everyone is as careful as Samantha. Other students occasionally make exceptions and bump their tunes.

“Loud, clear music without any outside noise is one of the best things I enjoy,” said Garcia, adding, “I don’t think I have any hearing loss problems, I can hear perfectly fine when I don’t use my headphones.”

But hearing loss does not occur overnight.

“The type of hearing loss due to headphone use is typically gradual, cumulative and without obvious warning signs,” said James Foy, a pediatrician specializing in children’s health, adding that “the type of hearing loss caused by over exposure to very loud noise is irreversible, making prevention paramount.”


Source: Center for Hearing and Communication.

  • 38 – Millions of Americans with significant hearing loss.
  • 15 – Percent of 6 to 19 year olds with hearing loss in at least one ear.
  • 7 – Number of years most wait before seeking help.

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