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Aug 17, 2010 6:45 PM by Jamie Patrick

More teenagers experience hearing loss

A lot of parents may say their teens don't listen to them. But, a new study finds teenagers really aren't hearing as well as they used to.

Whether it comes from listening to a lot of music, or simply old age even the slightest hearing loss can be a major problem.

"Once an individual loses their hearing, it does not come back," said Dr. Tommie Robinson, American  Speech-Language Hearing Association.

The latest group to suffer a hearing loss? Teenagers.

"About 1 in 5 adolescents has evidence of at least some kind of hearing loss," said Dr. Josef Shargorodsky, Brigham & Women's Hospital.

Dr. Shargorodsky led a new study that compares hearing loss in Boston of teens in 2005 and teens from the early 90's. He found a significant increase about 30 percent in the prevalence of hearing loss among teenagers during that time frame.

The study did not explore possible reasons for the increase but some experts have an educated guess. "We've moved into an era where the culture is such that everybody has some kind of private or independent listening device," said Dr. Robinson. Ear buds abound in today's teen culture mp3 players, cell phones, video games, you name it.

Speech specialists say the best thing you can do to protect your hearing turn the volume down. "If you're standing next to someone, and you can hear the music in their ears, it's too loud," said Dr. Robinson.

Most of the hearing loss detected in the new study was slight amounting to a whisper. But that whisper echoes loud and clear in what could be an alarming trend of today's digital world if ear buds someday lead to hearing aids.

Other studies have found even slight hearing losses in kids and teens can lead to problems in school.

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