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Hearing loss increasingly common in young adults

2012-08-09

Students may have to trade in their ear buds for hearing aids.

A new study found evidence of hearing loss in “normal-hearing” college students. Today’s generation use cell phones, iPods and have surround-sound systems. This generation might need to turn down the volume.

The International Journal of Audiology conducted a study on college student’s hearing. It tested 56 college students and one in four had hearing loss. All students reported normal hearing during telephone conversations, but according to the study males who reported use of personal music players had significantly worse high-frequency thresholds compared with women.

The American Academy of Audiology has tips to determine if you have hearing loss. Some questions to ask are:

Do you find it difficult to follow conversations in a noisy restaurant?

Do you often have to ask people to repeat themselves?

Do you experience ringing or noises in your ears?

Half of the subjects in the study reported recreational use of a personal music player. Most subjects had previous exposure to other recreational sounds like loud music in nightclubs, concerts and cars. The study concluded if the music player is used for more than 30 minutes with high volumes it can possibly contribute to hearing loss.

Angie Reeder, audiologist at Schiefelbusch Clinic, said that it’s not the device so much as the decibal that makes the difference.

Reeder said the steps students can take to prevent hearing are:

-Walk away from the noise

-Wear ear protection

-Turn down the volume

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, the loudness of sounds is measured in decibels. It breaks sound activity into three categories: what we hear, prolonged exposure to any noise above 85 decibels and regular exposure of more than one minute of certain decibel levels.

Patty Quinlan, nursing supervisor at Watkins Memorial Health Center, said that treatment for hearing loss is generally one thing. “If it’s due from an injury of repeated loud noises then you’re probably looking at a hearing aid.” A hearing aid can cost from $100 to $500 dollars. “Students should remain aware of what their ears are exposed to. Anytime they have an earbud or any type of apparatus in their ear they should be aware of how loud they’re listening,” Quinlan said.

Lawnmowers, blenders and hairdryers used for more than 30 minutes can be dangerous.

The Schiefelbusch Clinic creates custom hearing protection and earpieces for students. Reeder said she advises college students get their hearing tested as freshman and then again before they graduate so their hearing results can be compared.

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