With the increasing use of iPods and other MP3 players, more and more children and adolescents are putting their hearing at risk. Prior to the introduction of MP3 players, hearing loss among children was estimated at around 12.5 percent. More recent studies, however, estimate that 16 percent of teenagers, or approximately 6 million children, suffer from permanent noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).
Explore this issue:January 2010
And the problem may only get worse. “We are still in the infantile stages of NIHL,” said Roland D. Eavey, MD, director of the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center for Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn. “It is a little like where we were with smoking in the early 1940s. Everyone thought it was glamorous, and soldiers were given cigarettes in their K-rations.” As with cigarette smoking, “after a while it is going to become painfully obvious that use of MP3 players is damaging, and it will be too late to reverse the hearing loss,” he said.
NIHL is already a problem for many baby boomers weaned on rock concerts. “The baby boomer generation has 26 percent more hearing loss than that of the senior population,” noted Marcella Bothwell, MD, chair of the Pediatric Airway and Aerodigestive Team at Rady Children’s Hospital of San Diego.| | | Next → | Single Page