Can You Hear Me Now? Teen Hearing Loss on the Rise


So I have this good friend me and my posse like to tease on occassion because we constantly have to repeat ourselves due to her being nearly deaf. You see, she had this tendency in college (and even now) to go to a ton of concerts, blast her music through her apartment, and spend her days working at her job with her ear phones permanently glued to her head. Sure, it's just one more of her endearing traits (that and her ability to fall into a coma on a dime no matter where we are or what we're doing), but given the data scientists have been gathering lately, it kinda makes me wonder if my friend's issues are not quite the laughing matter we all thought they were.

According to a new study published by the Journal of American Medical Association, teens between the ages of 12-19 are experiencing hearing loss at an alarming rate, and researchers aren't quite sure what's causing it. Data collected over the past two decades show that even MINOR hearing loss is becoming a lot more common than many of us realize.

"Researchers looking at hearing loss in people ages 12 to 19 found that when compared with data from the mid-1990s there has been a 30 percent increase in the development of minimal levels of hearing loss, and a 77 percent increase in more serious hearing problems – those where obvious communication difficulties can be observed.  About one in 20 children experienced hearing loss in 1994, and that number jumped to about one in 5, or an estimated 6.5 million adolescents, by 2006."

Dr. Rolan Eavey, the author of the study, says the problem is near "epidemic," and that further research is greatly needed before recommendations can be made as to how to combat it. “We see smoke,” he says. “We’re not sure where the fire is yet, but we know it’s not good for the woods to be burning."

(Hmm…now if they could only discover a reason why my friend can't ride in a car without sawing logs five seconds after we take off somewhere…)

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