President's Prescription: Hearing Loss and Technology - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

President's Prescription: Hearing Loss and Technology

If you and your children are like many Americans, you spend much of your day plugged in to an MP3 player, computer or smart phone listening to your favorite music, audio books or videos.

Although the background noise can help pass the workday or after-school commute, today's new and improved audio technology — with higher-quality sound and larger storage capacity — is often hurting our ears.

According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found a 31 percent increase in hearing loss among teens between 12 and 19 years old. This means 1 in 5 adolescents now suffers some sort of hearing impairment.

Signs of hearing loss may include:

  • Muffled hearing
  • Difficulties understanding what people are saying or a loss of speech clarity, especially when there is background noise
  • Listening to the television or radio at higher volume
  • Tendency to need to stare at people when they are talking in order to make it easier to understand what they are saying
  • Fatigue at the end of the day from straining to hear

Hearing loss can result from too much exposure to sound from any source that is above 85 decibels. Just to give you an idea of what that sounds like — A whisper is measured at 25 decibels, whereas a lawnmower is measured at 95 decibels.

To avoid damaging your hearing, keep three things in mind when using your audio devices:

  • Lower the volume
  • Limit listening time
  • Wear earphones that go around the ear or fit deeper into the ear canal to reduce the need to increase the volume

While the hearing loss may be only slight or mild, earlier studies have found that even mild hearing loss can negatively affect academic achievement and social interaction. For the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, I'm Dr. Tedd Mitchell, and this is the President's Prescription.

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