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Online Hearing Tests Raise Awareness about Hearing Loss for Teens

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Online Hearing Tests Raise Awareness about Hearing Loss for Teens

While most of us may think of hearing loss as a condition relegated to the elderly, the reality is that anyone at any age can experience it. Presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss, is just one form. As people get older, inner ear hair cells naturally die. As they are a crucial part of the auditory process, and they do not regenerate, the loss of these hair cells is inextricably linked to hearing loss in older adults.

Worldwide, there has been a rise in cases of hearing loss among children and teens. Currently, in the US, 20% of teens experience some degree of hearing loss. In 2015, the World Health Organization estimated that 1.1 billion young people are “at risk of hearing loss because of personal audio devices, such as smartphones, and damaging levels of sound at entertainment venues like electronic dance music festivals where noise levels can top 120 decibels for hours.”

Researchers have estimated that hearing loss is 30% more likely in today’s teens than their counterparts in the 1980s and 1990s. It has become a real problem – even Teen Vogue reported on it in June 2015. Though hearing loss is an invisible condition that may go unnoticed, there is a new mode to raise awareness on the condition among teens: online hearing tests.

 

Online Hearing Tests Raise Awareness about Hearing Loss Among Young People

According to Hear It, “Regular adolescent hearing screenings only take place in a few countries, despite the fact at more than one billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of damaging their hearing due to their unsafe listening practices.”

Hearing specialists believe that earbuds, coupled with the convenience and ubiquity of personal hearing devices, are the culprit for the rise in hearing loss in younger populations. In previous generations, headphones were usually worn over the ear, which is significantly less dangerous to hearing that in-ear headphones, also known as earbuds.

Coupled with long-lasting battery life of personal electronic devices, such as a smartphone, iPod, or tablet, young people are plugged in for many hours at a time, with earbuds, playing music and media at high-risk volumes.

Though some devices have volume control, they are easily ignored. Additionally, earbuds play sounds 7 to 9 decibels higher than over-the-ear headphones, and since they are not effective at blocking out extraneous noise, earbud wearers tend to turn them up louder in order to drown out competing sounds. The proximity of the earbud to the eardrum can lead to serious damage.

To address this issue, the Netherlands now offers online hearing tests (speech-in-noise self-tests) to give young people a picture of their hearing abilities. The goal is to “enhance the awareness of the risk of hearing loss due to exposure to loud noise and may possibly lead to a change in young people’s risk-taking behavior.”

The test is simple and easy to use: “The only thing needed to take an online test is a quiet measurement environment, and a computer, tablet, or smartphone with internet access.”

 

Protecting Your Hearing

Considering the trends, something must be done to protect the hearing of our younger generations. Hearing specialists recommend using over-the-ear, noise-canceling headphones, which enables wearers to listen to sounds at lower volumes. Also, you can use technology to your advantage. There are apps which set a lock on volume levels, so your kids cannot play volumes louder than the one you set.

In terms of setting volumes and limits, hearing specialists recommend listening to music and media at 60% of the volume for no more than 60 minutes a day. You may also consider customized ear protection for your budding young musicians who may be near loudspeakers all day.

Remind the young people in their life that hearing loss is permanent. There is no cure, and while there are treatments with devices such as hearing aids, hearing loss is irreversible. Furthermore, hearing loss is linked with other health problems over the long-term – something young people don’t like to think about! People with hearing loss are at higher risk of developing depression, anxiety, and higher levels of stress. Researchers have recently found a potential link between hearing loss and dementia.

 

Take a Hearing Test at Hearing Centers of Arizona

The online hearing test is a great tool to raise awareness on hearing loss and give young people a sense of what hearing loss entails. When it comes to hearing health the most important thing you can do is schedule an annual hearing test for your child or teen.

A comprehensive and conclusive hearing test is conducted by a hearing specialist, and it will be more in-depth than any test you can find online. In this age of online self-diagnosis, it’s important to remember that the best care you can receive happens in real life with a specialist. Visit us at Hearing Centers of Arizona today.

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