Mom was right – you need to turn down the volume on the music, especially with those earbuds jammed in your ears. Now some local students will receive education about how to protect themselves from a common cause of hearing loss: listening to music—at sound levels too loud for too long and too often—on electronic devices like smartphones and iPods and other portable music players.
It should be a fun lesson, because this education will take the form of in-school “safe-listening” concerts – including one at McGinnis Woods Country Day School – presented by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association‘s (ASHA) Listen To Your Buds campaign. ASHA’s Annual Convention is in Atlanta; the activities of the campaign will kick off Convention week.
Audiologist Anne Oyler said educational and clinical audiologist are expressing a concern because they are seeing hearing loss in a younger population – school-age children.
She said the CDC had done a study on hearing loss and found that one in five teens now have some degree of hearing loss, and it seemed to be an increase from previous years.
"You might think of your grandfather who got hearing loss and can't hear anything. He's talking really loud, turning the TV really loud," she said.
But now teens are losing hearing in a specific range in the higher frequencies. Evidence of noise damage can be seen, though it may not have an affect on hearing speech yet.
Right away audiologists looked to what activities children are doing that are noisy.
"The whole idea with the Listen to Your Buds [concerts] is just to educate the kids and their families," she said.
"Once it's gone, it's permanent," Oyler said of hearing.
"The campaign is all about protecting your hearing," she said.
Signs of hearing loss include:
- A child complains they have rining or buzzing in their ears;
- Their ears feel muffled;
- Sounds are muffled.
These may be signs of temporary hearing loss from loud noise, Oyler said.
"It will come back if they give their ear a rest. But over time it becomes permanent," she said.
When a person goes to a concert with 135db coming out of a speaker, they can damage hearing in less than 10 minutes.
Sounds below 85db are safe for listening.
"Once it gets to 85 and up, you have to start thinking about how long can I be in this noise without doing damage to my hearing," Oyler said.
The louder the noise, the shorter the time listening is safe.
"Basically you have to either wear ear protection or you have to be at a greater distance from the sound," she said.
The Kaiser Family Foundation found that 8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day.
"Kids aren't going to listen to us without their parents caring," Oyler said.
"I think hearing loss is invisible. People don't take it seriously until it happens to them," she said.
Nationally-known and award-winning musicians Oran Etkin and Billy Jonas will perform for Buds In The Schools Week Atlanta. In advance of the week, teachers will incorporate lesson plans related to hearing protection as part of the observance.
Buds In The Schools Week Atlanta Concert Schedule
(Sorry, these concerts are just for the students at these schools.)
Monday, Nov. 12
Mount Pisgah Christian School
9820 Nesbitt Ferry Rd.
Johns Creek, GA 30022-9881
McGinnis Woods Country Day School
5368 McGinnis Ferry Rd.
Alpharetta, GA 30005
Tuesday, Nov. 13
The Davis Academy Lower School
8105 Roberts Dr.
Atlanta, GA 30350
Harvester Christian Academy
4241 Central Church Rd.
Douglasville, GA 30135
Wednesday, Nov. 14
The Howard School
1192 Foster St., NW
Atlanta, GA 30318