Teen hearing loss rising, study shows

April 5, 2011 3:10:26 PM PDT
Some may assume that hearing loss is a problem that occurs later in life but teens are also facing an increasing risk according to the International Journal of Audiology.

Like many teenagers, music is an important part of 18-year-old Matt Calabretta's daily routine.

He enjoys listening to his favorite tunes on full blast, and was convinced that he had not experienced any of the classic signs of hearing loss.

A hearing test given during a new study provided enough proof that his ears had been affected. The results were typical among other teens.

"He told me that it could be from the high volume of my headphones, he told me it could be from the high volume in my car. But it was definitely from my headphones, I always have it at a high volume," Calabretta said.

The problem is on the rise due to new tight-fitting earpieces that pass sound straight into the eardrum.

The loud noise is capable of damaging hair cells in the inner ear which send sound to the brain.

Digital sound differs from the sound delivered by Walkmans, which are no longer popular.

"When the volume got to a certain level, the sound became distorted so people would tend to turn that volume down. Now with digital tech, the volume can increase and the sound is not distorted, so their listening at louder volumes," said Dr. Erich Voigt of New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Another factor is rock concerts that cause enough noise to resemble a jet taking off, except the concerts last for hours instead of a few minutes.

"As a group that feels invincible, they tend to get stimulation from loud noise and loud music," Dr. Voigt added.

Hearing loss can affect people of any age and devices such as ear plugs can help to prevent permanent damage. Or, simply turning it down may do the trick.

"I lower the music, I lower the level in my car," Calabretta added.