It is indeed no secret that teenagers today and those of the past enjoy listening to loud music.
However, with the technology evolving, battery power life-extending, and earbuds fitting directly into their ears, hearing damage from loud music (that we presumed was just a stereotype of our youth) could be more of a challenge than we ever thought.
Statistics reveal an increase in noise-induced hearing loss in teenagers caused by these factors along with several others, showing that more education and more hearing protection is required to reduce the number of teens affected by critical hearing loss issues from things that may have been avoided.
What Exactly Is “Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?”
It is a condition that occurs when exposed to loud sounds or music that are harmful to the sensitive structures within our inner ear. These sensitive structures are called hair cells. However, once they are damaged, they do not grow back, consequently causing permanent hearing loss.
NIHL is usually caused by multiple or prolonged exposures to noise or a one-time exposure to an intense “impulse” sound like an explosion or a blast.
Earbuds are to be held responsible mainly because the evolution from outside-the-ear headphones to today’s earbuds shows that approximately one in five teens experience some form of hearing loss and this is about 30% higher than it was in the 1980s and 1990s.
The primary reason is that earbuds are positioned directly into the ear, creating almost a seal and thereby focusing sound energy directly into the ear canal.
Sound systems like earbuds come in various sizes and shapes these days, and as a result, more “comfortable” headphones which allow for longer exposure are being manufactured.
When Does Hearing Damage Occur?
There have been many scientific studies from experts linking hearing loss in teens to earbuds with loud music.
Most teenagers admit to falling asleep with their earbuds in; many others listen to it while doing homework, while engaging in sporting activities, driving and even during school hours.
The more time you have your earbuds in your ears, the more damage it will cause.
Also, the higher the volume, the higher your chances of developing severe hearing issues.
Is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Reversible?
What is of more concern to adults, medical practitioners, parents, and audiologists is the fact that noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is irreversible, leading to permanent damage to the hearing ability. Teens in the world today are losing their hearing at a more rapid pace, and the consequences are truly life-changing.
Nevertheless, a recent study by the Stanford University of Medicine showed that damage to nerve cells caused by loud noises can be reversible.
The findings of this study could lead to the development of drugs or surgical treatments to reduce damage to the cochlea. These treatments could be tested on human beings within less than 10 years.
You will find more information on the Stanford Initiative to Cure Hearing Loss here.
What Are The Common Signs Of Hearing Loss From Loud Music?
Health experts notify that common signs of hearing loss from noise or loud music from earbuds includes; trouble hearing over background noise, asking others to repeat themselves, misunderstanding what other people are saying, responding wrongly to someone else’s questions, others include noticing that the television or music volume is louder than normal, or a constant ringing sensation in the ears.
Due to there are no externally-visible bodily changes that appear with hearing loss, most teens feel invincible to the negative effects.
What Can We Do To Reduce The Risks Of Hearing Loss?
Now, where do we go from here?
To start with, encourage the youngsters in your life to follow the 60-60 rule which states that they are meant to keep the volume below 60 (or 6 on the volume scale) and restrict the time they listen to music to about 60 minutes, and subsequently giving a 60-minute break.
Even though more research is needed, experts still agree Noise-induced hearing loss is a highly preventable condition that can be avoided by simply turning down the music, limiting exposure and being conscious of the effects of earbuds.