26 March 2014

Parents rarely talk to their teens about hearing loss

Teenagers run the risk of serious long-term hearing problems caused by excessively loud music or other loud noises. But parents are not aware of the risks and seldom talk to their kids about it, according to an American study.

An American study has found that parents rarely talk to their teenage children about hearing loss.

More than 96% of the parents in the study reported that their adolescent was slightly or not at all at risk of hearing problems from excessive noise. 69% had not spoken with their adolescent about noise exposure, mainly because of the perceived low risk.

Nonetheless, to protect their adolescents' hearing, more than 65% of parents were either willing or very willing to consider limiting time listening to music, limiting access to excessively noisy situations, or insisting on the use of hearing protection such as earplugs or earmuffs.

The findings were collected in an Internet-based survey of a nationally representative online sample of more than 700 parents of 13 to 17-year-olds.

"I think parents are only recently becoming aware of the dangers of excessive noise exposure," said study author Dr. Deepa L. Sekhar.

One in eight American kids and teenagers - or more than five million - has some form of hearing loss that usually stems from overexposure to loud noises, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Underestimating the risk

On the whole, parents seemed willing to take steps to protect their kids, but often underestimated the risks of too much loud music.

More educated parents and those with younger teens were most likely to be willing to take precautions with their kids, like limiting music time, limiting access to noisy situations or insisting on protective measures like earplugs.

"At this point it is difficult to give parents an exact volume level specifically because it is both the volume and the length of the exposure that impact hearing in the long run. Raising awareness that hearing protection is important is a good place to start. The more parents know, the more likely they will be to step in.," Dr. Deepa L. Sekhar said.

The study was published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

Sources: www.reuters.com and JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg.

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