With increases in the prevalence of technology over the past decade, our lives have never been busier and more full of distractions — and we’ve never been more at risk for hearing loss than we are now. Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) used to be considered a problem that only the elderly faced, but over the prior three decades, hearing loss increases have affected age ranges that used to be mostly immune to NIHL, and that age range includes teenagers.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, one in three people now develops hearing loss as a result of exposure to extreme noise, and it starts in teenage years. Rates of NIHL in teens have increased since 1990 from 14.9% to the current 19.5% in young adults ages 12 to 19, which coincides with increases in ownership of portable music devices like the iPod. Between 2005 and 2010, iPods and MP3 players exploded in popularity, with purchases of such devices for children and teenagers rising from 18% to 76%. Now 5 million individuals ages 6 to 19 suffer from some form of NIHL.

Some children may actually suffer from hearing loss, but not know it. In many cases, hearing loss from noise exposure may not surface until many years later. So while 30% more adolescents are experiencing hearing loss than their parents and other relatives did in the late ’80s, many won’t know the extent of the damage caused until decades later.

According to a National Poll on Children’s Health survey hosted by the University of Michigan, a majority of parents are in favor of requiring regular hearing screenings for children from their preschool to teenage years. If you suspect your child may have hearing loss, or if you experience a sudden change in hearing or ringing in the ears, mild hearing loss may be the culprit.

Hearing loss is incurable, but it is preventable. For a free consultation on how hearing loss may be affecting your family, contact us or call (406) 552-0412 today.