Medical Minute 12-7: Teems and Music: Tuned In, Turned On - Blown Out

By: Ramin Khalili Email
By: Ramin Khalili Email

Alexa Curhan loves to blast her tunes. But after learning those earphones may lead to hearing loss, she changed her tune.

A new study shows one-out-of-five teens has slight hearing loss and one-out-of-twenty has at least mild hearing loss. That's a 30 percent increase in the past 15 years.

"There is actually a measurable difference in how kids do when they have even a slight hearing loss, compared to kids who don't," said Josef Shargorodsky M.D., M.P.H., Department of Otolaryngology Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Exposure to noise like busy streets can damage hearing, but doctors say personal music players cause more damage.

"The current devices can play music longer on the same battery, [and] it can also, with ear buds, get more sound into the ear, so it is certainly more dangerous today than it might have been twenty years ago," said Josef Shargorodsky, M.D., M.P.H.

Loud noise destroys tiny hair cells in your ear that route sound waves to your brain.

"I noticed that I never really paid attention to how loud I was listening to my iPod on a daily basis," said Alexa Curhan.

Be safe. Set your music player to about 60 percent of its peak volume; don't listen for more than 60 minutes a day and stay away from music louder than 85 decibels, where hearing loss occurs. Alexa uses a computer program to download tunes at a safe level.

"By her getting the message herself, and turning it down, I'm hoping her younger sister will follow her," said Sharon Curhan, Alexa's Mother.

Good move. Doctors say early hearing loss can lead to faster deterioration as kids get older.

For More Information, Contact:Josef Shargorodsky MD, MPHMassachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary(516)

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