Hearing loss in teenagers is on the rise, but how do we spot problems?
In this post, we guide you through the signs of hearing loss, and what to do if you suspect your child is suffering from a potential impairment.
A Rise In Hearing Loss Amongst Young People
It is fair to say that when your child hits those teenage years, all sorts of crazy hormonal and physical changes occur. Mood swings, blank expressions and a tendency to use low guttural grunts instead of words are the standard stereotypes attributed to growing up – or are they?
Hearing impairment in our teenagers is a growing problem. According to TeensHealth, some experts claim hearing loss is occurring at a much earlier age than 30 years ago. By identifying and treating the condition before any significant damage has occurred, you could save your child’s hearing.
What Can Cause Hearing Loss In Our Teenagers?
Hearing loss occurs when part of the ear becomes damaged in some way. It can be ‘congenital’, meaning there was a loss of hearing at birth or ‘acquired’, for those who gradually or suddenly develop a hearing impairment during their lifetime. Hearing loss can be attributed to a number of factors:
- Congenital Hearing Loss – A non-preventable condition which you are born with.
- Noise-Induced Hearing Loss – This can be attributed to a one-off blast of sound or frequent exposure to excessively loud noise. Concerts, restaurants, and personal stereos are the obvious culprits, where the sound levels can be dangerously high. What’s less known, is that everyday exposure to televisions, cinemas, traffic, and even the lawn mower can have a detrimental, permanent effect on our hearing.
- Head Injury – A head trauma such as a fractured skull or a blow to the ears can cause hearing loss.
- Infection & Disease – Certain illnesses such as mumps, chicken pox, persistent ear infections, measles or brain tumours can all cause severe damage to our ears and have a detrimental effect on your hearing.
- Prescription Drugs – Antibiotics and other over the counter medicines or a course of chemotherapy can damage your inner ear.
How To Identify Hearing Loss In Teenagers
There are certain behaviours that should flag your concern if a pattern forms:
- TV or music regularly played at a high volume level – can be a warning sign that sound is not being processed as it should be.
- Inability to hear high-pitched sounds, which can later extend to problems with lower sound levels.
- Speaking with a raised voice during a normal conversation or mumbling softly, making it difficult to capture what’s being said.
- An unexplained decline in academic success at school, which can lead to feelings of isolation and low self-esteem.
- Lack of participation in the classroom and a reluctance to get involved in group activities.
- Social withdrawal – choosing to stay at home rather than mingle with friends.
- Appearing to ignore your requests may mean they simply didn’t hear you.
- Repeatedly losing the thread of a conversation because they fail to capture what is being said.
- A persistent high pitch ringing, or buzzing sound which could be an indication of tinnitus.
- A feeling of fullness in the ears is an indicator that something isn’t quite right.
- Sound distortion – can make conversation difficult to understand.
What To Do If You Believe Your Child Has A Hearing Problem?
If as a parent, you suspect your child to be suffering from some form of hearing loss, seek advice from a medical professional, where a referral to an audiologist may be necessary. With some conditions, there are a number of treatments available to help restore a loss of hearing and to halt further damage, including medication or surgery. With the advance of modern technology, there are also a variety of discreet, invisible hearing aids to choose from that would be perfect for a self-conscious teen.
How To Protect Your Child’s Hearing
As with our eyes, we only have one set of ears, so it’s important we learn how best to protect ourselves and our children from an increasingly noisy world.
- Avoid direct exposure to loud noise when going to a concert or party. Encourage them to wear ear protection, such as ear plugs to act as a barrier against excessive sound.
- Avoid the use of cotton buds when cleaning deep inside the ears. There are plenty of hygiene products available on our website to safely extract wax.
- Make sure they use a helmet when skating, bike riding, skiing or horse riding to avoid an unnecessary head injury.
- Educate your child – tell them about the dangers of listening to excessively loud music. Forewarned is forearmed!
- They should only use medication prescribed by their doctor to avoid any potentially damaging side effects from other types of accessible medicines.
Check For Hearing Loss
Take our free online hearing test to check your hearing. Results will indicate if you should take further action to prevent a further loss of hearing.
Please note that the check is not designed for children. If you have concerns about your child's hearing, you should consult a medical professional for full diagnostic testing.