Hearing Loss Among Teenagers Has Doubled Since 1985

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The always-on, always-cranked lifestyle has obvious consequences, but is it really this bad?

According to recent research published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, hearing loss has essentially doubled since 1985. The results, officially released a few months ago, unsurprisingly peg MP3 players and smartphones as a major culprit.

And the numbers are hard to look at. “High frequency hearing loss (HFHL) doubled over the 24-year period from 10.1 percent in 1985 to 19.2 percent in 2008,” researching PhDs Abbey L. Berg and Yula C. Serpanos relayed after combing through decades of data.  But once data is analyzed through 2011, noticeable hearing loss among teenagers may have pushed past the 20-mark.

A lot of this is common sense, though elevated volumes are not always damaging.  A separate study from the University of Colorado Boulder showed that long periods of listening at a 70-percent volume level are typically fine, while even a few minutes of high-decibel cranking can create serious long-term damage.  Accordingly, environments like train stations, crowded city streets, and airplanes were deemed especially hazardous, simply because listeners often try to drown out the surroundings.

Then, there’s the biggest problem of all: the listener.  Teenagers are notorious for resisting advice from adults, and ignoring health-related dangers.  That is probably compounded by music, itself an identity statement that often involves an element of rebellion.  Perhaps some of that uprising can be properly noise-canceled.