Watching your kids or grandkids go around with those little white headphones jammed in their ears all day, you can’t help but wonder what it’s doing to their hearing.
After all, the music is so loud, you can hear it from across the room — and those things are right in their ears!
Will they be deaf before they’re 20? Should they really be listening all day like that?
But you don’t want to nag, knowing they’re just going to roll their eyes and say you’re out of touch. “Besides,” they’ll challenge you, “can you prove it?”
Well…yes. Now you can.
For the proof, we look to a 24-year study of 8,710 adolescent girls, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
The girls, who started the study at an average age of 16, had their hearing tested at the beginning of the study in 1985.
Between then and the end of the study, high-frequency hearing loss nearly doubled. This kind of hearing loss results from excessive noise exposure — like cramming little headphones into your ears and pumping up the volume.
Between 2001 and 2008, the number of girls listening to music on personal devices such as iPods went from 18.3 percent to a whopping 76.4 percent. In that same time, high frequency hearing loss shot from 12.4 percent to 19.2 percent.
Girls (now women, of course) using the devices were 80 percent more likely to have impaired hearing. Some of them reported experiencing tinnitus — all but one with the condition were headphone users.
It’s best to use headphones in moderation — and to keep the volume at a “conversational” or slightly higher level — any higher and the ears are overworked, leading to damage down the road.
It can be tricky, though, to communicate that to kids, who imagine they’re immune to such ailments as hearing loss.
Why not ask the kids if they’d like to give their ears a little break and listen together — plug that iPod into the stereo and enjoy their music with them. Hey, you might even find a new favorite band!
Ms. O’Brien has written for Nutrition & Healing, Healthier Talk and a variety of other natural and alternative health outlets. She believes in the power of natural medicine and her goal is to open people’s eyes to the benefits of alternative and integrative medicine.
Christine is passionate about helping people help themselves without having to turn to harsh drugs or invasive surgeries.
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