There’s a common misperception that hearing loss only affects older individuals. While it is true that hearing does tend to diminish with age, only about one-third of all people with hearing loss in Tucson is over the age of 65. It is increasingly affecting the younger population, as well, due in large part to technology.
Hearing Loss Affects All Ages
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 17 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 19 are affected by noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) in one or both ears. NIHL occurs when the tiny hair cells in the cochlea that are responsible for transmitting sounds to the brain for interpretation are irreversibly damaged following prolonged exposure to loud sounds (generally those that exceed 85 decibels). Younger people tend to experience NIHL as a result of listening to loud music for extended periods while wearing earbuds. Your Tucson audiologist recommends ensuring your child’s music is played at no more than 60 percent of maximum volume. A good rule of thumb: if you can hear your kid’s music through their earbuds it is too loud. Periodic breaks are important, too; they give the ears a rest.
Sometimes, earbuds have nothing to do with hearing loss. Teens who sign up for band – especially those who play particularly noisy instruments, such as drums – risk doing long-term damage to their hearing, as well. Make sure their music teacher provides hearing protection, and stress to your child the importance of wearing it at all times.
Music isn’t the only factor that can contribute to NIHL. Other activities that might put your child’s hearing at risk include riding dirt bikes or snowmobiles; attending sporting events; mowing the lawn and lighting off fireworks.
Be Proactive Now to Avoid Problems Later
The best way to prevent hearing loss in your child is by taking a proactive approach. Insist they wear hearing protection any time they are going to be exposed to noisy activities. Regular foam earplugs from the drugstore are fine, but if they frequently encounter noisy situations, a pair of custom molded earplugs are best.
It’s a good habit to get into early. Left untreated, hearing loss can lead to a variety of problems including isolation, anxiety and depression – not to mention an increased risk of physical issues such as dementia and kidney disease.
Your audiologist in Tucson can provide you with more information on protecting your child’s hearing.