Ever make fun of your parents or grandparents for being hard of hearing? You may soon be suffering from the same problem! A recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association found that nearly 1 in 5 adolescents is already suffering from some sort of hearing loss. This number is up 30% from peer groups from the 80's and 90's. The study even found that 5% of youths between the ages of 12 and 19 has suffered enough damage that it may impact their ability to listen and learn. This damage could lead to the need for hearing aids at a younger age in adulthood.
While the study could not identify the use of MP3 players as the culprit, it also did not rule them out. Young adults are frequently exposed to loud concerts, car stereos, and personal music devices. Often, the volume is raised to levels well above safe decibels for the inner ear. If you find that you have to yell over the music, suffer from muffled or ringing ears, or can't hear someone within 2 feet of you, the music is probably too loud.
To help protect your ears, lower the volume in your car while driving and reserve pumping the volume to only your favorite sing-along songs. Check to see if your MP3 player has a maximum volume setting so that songs will not blast in your ears. Wear ear plugs to loud concerts (you will still hear the music just fine!), or opt to stand away from the speakers. You only get one set of ears, so act now to protect them or you may be hard of hearing later!