Young Hearing Loss
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Parents often warn their kids that they will “go deaf” if they don’t turn down the music, even when wearing earbuds. But, they usually don’t listen. Now a new University of Florida study warns that an alarming number of college students are actually beginning to lose their hearing. While testing students who thought they had normal hearing, researchers discovered 25% of them had actually lost some of their hearing. Male college students who reported using portable music players were more likely to have hearing loss in the high frequency range. Researchers say the hearing loss detected in the students usually occurs in older adults.
Dr. Colleen Le Prell/UF researcher: “So the level of hearing loss that we are seeing, it is starting in the higher frequencies and that is exactly what you see in an aged ear. So typically, starting around age 50, you will start to see hearing losses in the higher frequencies. When we are seeing kids with those kinds of hearing losses it is very alarming.”
A 15 decibels or more deficit in hearing was detected in the students in the study with hearing loss. Researchers say this amount hearing loss does not require a hearing aid, but it could be disruptive to education.
Dr. Colleen Le Prell/UF researcher: “Someone who has a 15 db level of hearing loss might have a harder time understanding what a teacher is saying. Or, if there is noise in the classroom and other students are talking and there is competing signals, it would be more difficult for that student to understand the material that is being presented.”
Researchers say current hearing tests in school children are not detecting a lot of hearing loss because the screenings check a narrow frequency range.