One In Five Teenagers Suffers From Hearing Loss

One in five adolescents has some hearing loss, a rate that has increased substantially from a decade ago, when the rate was only one in seven.

How do the numbers break down? The percentage with at least slight hearing loss increased by 30 percent, to 19.5 percent from 14.9 percent in the earlier survey. This hearing loss is slight enough that they may not even notice. But the number with greater hearing loss has also increased, from 1 in 30 teens in the earlier study to 1 in 20 teenagers in the latest survey. And that’s disturbing.

Hearing Loss Jumps From A Decade Ago

This study, published two weeks ago in The Journal of the American Medical Association, tested about 1,771 young people aged 12 to 19 who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 2005-6, and compared the  amount of hearing loss with that of youngsters who participated in the survey in 1988-94.

Upsurge In Use Of iPods

The researchers did not try to come to conclusions about this sharp increase, but those of us who work with teenagers have seen more and more of them sporting iPods and other digital music players over the past few years, so the news of a surge in teen hearing loss is hardly surprising. It is, however, alarming.

Other studies, from the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), have found that exposure to loud sounds can lead to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). After testing the hearing of over 5,000 children aged 6 to 19, they found that 12.5 percent had evidence of NIHL. That equals 5.2 million children in the United States with a NIHL in one or both ears.

Teens Don’t Know How Loud Their Music Is

If you’ve ever tried talking to someone who is listening to loud music on an iPod, you know how frustrating it can be. And the scary part is that these teens don’t realize how noisy their music is. According to the paper’s lead author, Dr. Josef Shargorodsky of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, youngsters often say they are not being exposed to loud noise because they are simply unaware they are listening to music at dangerously high levels.

Hearing Aids For All?

Hearing loss is a big deal because the damage is permanent. What to do? Doctors advise parents that there is a maximum volume lock on their child’s iPod, a safeguard if a child refuses to turn down the volume. And the NIDCD urges everyone to know that noises above 75 decibels can cause damage, and to protect children who are too young to protect themselves.

And that includes teenagers. Tell them to turn it down, or envisage a future where they will need a permanent hearing aid.

Creative Commons - haxney


Klaus P.
Klaus Peters7 years ago

Does not surprise me at all, ipods, mobile phones, sound systems that have to be fully turned on at home or in the car. Well we are going to have a generation of hearing impaired!

Trina Dewes
Trina Dewes7 years ago

They don't call it DEF JAM for nothing. I always said that the high bass speakers in the cars playing rap to the point of vibrating car windows nearby would eventually end up with deaf individuals who ride in the cars with the loud music. They are blaming ipods but if my windows are vibrating from music in another car--imagine the damage that is doing to the passengers eardrums in the offending vehicle.

Liz Thompson
Elisabeth T7 years ago

teenagers and loud music, this has been a problem for many years.....

jane richmond
jane richmond7 years ago

First we have to get them to hear us then they can turn the music down

Tamila mendoza
Tamila mendoza7 years ago

That's some information that will be very useful with a pre-teen son. Thank you...

Karen C.
Karen C7 years ago

I remember as a kid in grade school, the hearing bus coming to test our hearing. Maybe this should happen to kids in middle school so they know what is going on.

Margaret B.
Margaret B7 years ago

I have hearing loss....and i didn't grow up with ipods... but I had ear tubes as a child and now have scarring on my eardrums. So I wouldn't just blame music.

Patricia Lopez
Patricia Lopez7 years ago

I know from experience that we would not turn down our music.We would go to concerts where the music was blasting loud.I now suffer from constant ringing in my ears,pinging sounds that ever wake me up from sleep.

Rosi C.

The problem one faces here, is the age old fact of most people "learning the hard way". If this problem could be rectified then all others will just slot into place. Sadly as humans most of us have not yet reached thta level of personal evolution, but that should not stop us trying. Rosi Caswell, Animal Whisperer, Animal/Human Therapist.

Lionel Mann
Lionel Mann7 years ago

The young are always at risk from commercial exploitation such as this. Unfortunately nothing will be done to restrict the activities of the corporations that produce these harmful devices. The producers hold the authorities in the palms of their hands.