I figure most of you have heard this by now, but being a teen I think it alarms me that much more to consider the number of friends that I have who will likely require hearing assistance when they are older. So, I'm posting this for those who already haven't already heard...
1 in 5 teens in the US has a slight hearing loss.*
1 in 20 US teens have mild or worsening hearing loss.
This is a 30% increase since the mid '90s.
Yahoo! Associated Press Article
USA Today Article
I think the problem is both a lack of education about noise exposure, as well as the all-too-common idea "it won't happen to me." The other day I got into my seventeen year old (hearing) sister's car, and as soon as she turned it on the car was shaking with the radio blasting at full volume. I could feel the beat in my chest, and could hear the low frequency sounds pumping without my implants (I can tell when I'm able to hear something with my residual hearing alone. It "comes through" differently.) I glared at my sister, and she turned off the radio. Lately she's been complaining about hearing a buzzing or ringing in her ear. I went on to tell her that this could damage her hearing, and that this tinnitus could actually be a sign of hair cells in her cochlea being killed off. She was actually surprised, and went on to ask me why *I* get to turn my iPod speakers up so loud. "Well, sis. I don't know if you've noticed yet...but I'm already deaf! I've got nothing left to lose!" (I suppose she doesn't think it's fair). I'm pretty sure as soon as I got out of the car she turned the radio right back on, but who knows. I'm sending her this article.
*"Slight" hearing loss in teens is consider to be a loss of 16-24 dB, and most of these are in only one ear. It is important to realize that many hearing aids (and even cochlear implants) don't always amplify/provide sound down to this level, it is very quiet. With my cochlear implants, the softest sounds I can hear range from 5-20 dB. With my hearing aids, it ranged from 40-80dB hearing loss (or so, this is based off of my memory). However, as these teens with hearing loss grow up and lose hearing from age-based hearing loss, they will need stronger hearing aids earlier, such as in their 40's rather than 50's, 60's, or 70's.