Teen hearing loss (and how to prevent it)

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reducing teen hearing lossTeen hearing loss has become a growing problem especially as earbuds have grown in popularity. As many as 1 in 6 adolescents have high frequency hearing loss (because of exposure to loud noises such as music played through headphones). Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson (“Seattle Mama Doc”) has an excellent article on reducing hearing loss. She advises:

  1. Have your teen screened for hearing damage at higher tones. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends testing at ages 11-14, 15-17, and 18-21. Dr. Swanson says this is typically done at a regular well child check-up.
  2. Enforce the 60/60 Rule. Take a break every 60 minutes and volume should be less than 60%. She says, “Long exposures to loud sounds do more damage so taking breaks between listening does save hearing. Other ways to help with volume — you and your children should be able to hear what’s going on around them while listening to the music. Also, if you’re walking by and can hear their music coming out of the headphones, it’s too loud!”
  3. Invest in quality noise-canceling headphones. Since the noise-cancelling will make the outside world quieter, it means the volume won’t need to be turned up as much. Headphones can still cause damage but but are better than earbuds.
  4. Wear proper fitting headphones (of any kind). When earphones fit properly, there’s less leakage from the outside which means the volume doesn’t need to be turned up as much.

To learn more about teen hearing loss other than headphones, check out What sounds are too loud for children?