12. My Two Teenagers Can't Seem To Hear Me Anymore. Are They Going Deaf?
Dr. Abonso: Maybe
they just don't like what you have to say. Teenagers often develop hearing loss
symptoms when their hormones are running high, especially for words like "no"
I can figure that out for myself. What I can't figure out is whether I should
make a big fuss and bring them in for hearing testing, or just continue my patience-of-Job
act until they grow up.
Dr. Abonso: It's
a good question. More and more kids have been damaging their hearing recently.
Audiologists who compare the hearing tests of kids today with those of 10-20
years ago find many more of today's kids have "old ears." In Marshfield, Wisconsin,
many of the high-schoolers that work 40-50 hours a week on the farm have 50-year-old
Suspicious Consumer: What damages their ears?
Dr. Abonso: Loud
noise, loud music, explosions, stupidity. After a recent Beavis and Butthead
show, kids decided that throwing firecrackers at each other looked like fun.
Some ended up with a permanent hearing loss. A doctor at Boy's Town told me of
a young girl riding in the car with her mother. A neighbor, "having fun," tossed
a firecracker into the car; it went off in the air near the young girl's right
ear and permanently deafened it.
Here's a list of hearing hazards:
- Loud motorcycles
- Boom cars (you can hear their music a block away)
- Rock Concerts
- Walkman players
Suspicious Consumer: Our daughter
dates a guy with a big noisy bike and a van with a stereo you can hear two blocks
away. Did I mention
that my son plays drums in a rock band? When they practice in our garage we
have to leave the house.
Dr. Abonso: Hmmm!
Even symphony musicians are at mild risk from the sound levels on stage, according
to a recent study of Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians. And there are more
articles about hearing damage in rock drummers than any other musicians. Rock
musicians often blow their ears out. I personally talked to one
who completely blew out his left ear in one concert. Do you know Peter
Townsend of THE WHO?
Suspicious Consumer: Who?
Dr. Abonso: I'll
wager your son knows who is WHO. Townsend said "I've shot my hearing...it's
frustrating when little children talk to you and you can't hear them."
Suspicious Consumer: So my son's
hearing is really at risk?
Dr. Abonso: In a word, yes.
Suspicious Consumer: Should I urge him to give up music?
Dr. Abonso: Good
grief, no! Music is the most important thing in life. Never, never, ever give
up music. Better to give up...
Suspicious Consumer: So what can I do?
Dr. Abonso: The
first step is simple. You can buy a sound level meter for $32.00 at Radio Shack.
Readings of even 100 dB (A) are OK for 15 minutes a day, but for 2 hours, 91
dB is the safe limit. Rock concerts sometimes clock in at 110-120 dB.
So if it is
100 dB for 2 hours?
Dr. Abonso: Use earplugs.
Suspicious Consumer: I'd rather she gave up her boyfriend.
Dr. Abonso: Your
daughter doesn't have to give up her boyfriend to protect her ears.
Suspicious Consumer: My son tried
yellow foam earplugs, but he said he couldn't hear well enough to play properly.
Dr. Abonso: No doubt.
Those little foam E-A-R plugs are unequaled for maximum protection, but for
music he needs what many Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians and drummers such
as Rick Van Horn use: ER15
Musicians Earplugs. Unlike most earplugs,
they don't muffle the high-pitched sounds; they just reduce the level. Or your
daughter might enjoy the less expensive ER20
I have a pair and I wouldn't go to a Bulls or Blackhawks game without them.
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