Hearing loss spiking in unexpected age group - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Hearing loss spiking in unexpected age group

New research shows hearing loss is spiking in an unexpected age group.

One in five teenagers suffer from some type of hearing impairment, and the problem has increased substantially in the past few years. Modern technologies might be to blame.

It may be time to turn the volume down.

"I was blown away that it was that many," said Chris Czop, with Avada Audiology and Hearing Care.

"They don't know what they are doing and they turn it up real loud," said Jake Ross, 12.

A study in Journal of the American Medical Association looked at data on 12- to 19-year-olds and found a 31% increase in hearing loss since the mid 90's.

Chris Czop is a hearing specialist and says this can have physical and psychological effects on teens.

"It can affect their school work," said Czop. "It affects their grades, it affects their attentiveness at home. They also start to withdraw from people."

Most of the hearing loss recorded in the study was "slight hearing loss." This means the teens could not hear at 16 to 24 decibels which are sounds like dripping water and whispers.

"MP3 players have a maximum output of 80 to 85 decibels," said Czop. "That's equivalent to living underneath a freeway."

The research did not prove iPods are to blame, but it found a significant increase in high frequency hearing loss. Czop says this indicates noise is to blame.

"In that area about the size of a pea are 25,000-35,000 nerve endings," said Czop. "When we hear loud sounds, those nerve endings become damaged."

The research points out another influencing factor. Teens listen to their music for longer periods of time than they used to.

"We go to Dallas a lot and usually listen to our iPod on the way to Dallas," said Sarah Barns, 12.

Experts say if you are going to listen for a while keep the volume down.

Doctors say you can protect your hearing by using protective headphones or earplugs around loud noises.

There is also a way to set volume limits on Apple iPods. Parents can use this feature to adjust the setting on their teen's iPod and lock it with a code.

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