Conger’s Corner: Hearing Loss

  • Posted on Dec 1, 2016


Personal listening devices (PLDs) are everywhere!  They are hanging around our necks or tucked into bags of almost everyone.  This wide spread use is not going away.  The prevalence of hearing loss among children and adolescents is rising dramatically.   A recent survey shows that 20% of adolescents between 12 to 19 years old demonstrate some type of hearing loss.  Also tinnitus (ringing in ears) may be another sign of damage.  The overexposure to sound is causing both temporary and permanent hearing losses.  These loud noises can damage structures within the cochlea, particularly the outer hair cells. The main exposure for our teens are PLDs and concerts.  Outdoor concerts reach decibels of 100.  Personal listening devices (PLDs) can reach well over 100 db.  The maximum time a person should listen to 100 dB is 15 minutes according to the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

  So what can be done to reduce the risk of noise-induced hearing loss in adolescents and young adults? The challenge is not an easy one.  There are several guidelines that can be used.  One option is to use the “80-90” rule which suggests limiting PLD use to 90 minutes per day with the volume set at 80% of the maximum.  A second suggestion is to use isolator-style earphones.  Such earphones seal the ear canal and physically block background noise, thus permitting lower headset sound levels.  In addition, earplugs are protective and should be worn at all outdoor concerts!  For under twenty bucks, one can buy high fidelity ear plugs that will protect the delicate hairs of your inner ear without sacrificing the quality of music.

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