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Earphones responsible for teenage hearing loss, according to new US research

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Many teenagers are losing their hearing from an early age, and this could be down to their extensive use of earphones, according to new research carried out by Providence St. Vincent in Portland, US

It may be a regular joke that teenagers have 'selective hearing' when their parents talk to them, but the report suggests that more and more teens are actually losing their hearing, with the number of hearing loss cases in their age bracket having risen by a third in the past 20 years.

The research highlighted that using earphones may have contributed to these worrying figures. Providence St. Vincent Audiologist Christi Speer said: “There are teens out there who need hearing aids who are not being treated. It’s sad. Earbuds sit inside the ear and you can hear outside noise, so teens pump up the volume to cancel that out.”

It is known that our ears can handle sounds up to 85 decibels, but the scientific team suggests that music levels from earphones can often go over the 100 decibel mark. Because this noise-induced hearing loss kills hair cells in the ear, which act as receptors for sound, this deafness ends up being permanent.

The report concludes that teenagers should stick to three main rules: earphones should only be used for 20 minutes within an hour as a rule of thumb, headphones are better for listening to music with, there should be a prime focus on hearing protectionand music volume levels should be kept low.

Ms Speer added: “It’s sort of like reading a newspaper with having chunks of letters taken out. They’ll have normal hearing typically in low frequencies, but we’ll see a dip in hearing the high frequencies. [Headphones] cancel out the surrounding noise, so teens are more likely to keep the volume at a reasonable level.”

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