What causes hearing loss in 1 of 5 US teens?

Fourth-grader Arylu Paniagua, 9, receives an ear exam from Dr. Michael Paul during a physical in the Loyola Pediatric Mobile Health Unit, parked outside Columbus West Elementary School, February 22, 2005 in Cicero, Illinois.
Fourth-grader Arylu Paniagua, 9, receives an ear exam from Dr. Michael Paul during a physical in the Loyola Pediatric Mobile Health Unit, parked outside Columbus West Elementary School, February 22, 2005 in Cicero, Illinois. Tim Boyle/Getty Images

A recent health study from the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that 1 out of 5 U.S. teens have observable hearing loss, a 30 percent increase over the last 15 years. More than a third of these cases are caused by over-exposure to excessive sound levels, like loud music or lawnmowers.

Dr. John House of the House Research Institute explains how these hearing issues are caused.

"We're more prone to having a problem with higher frequency exposure, so a low frequency sound is not as damaging than a higher frequency," says House.

The problem isn't subwoofers and car window-rattling bass, but seemingly innocuous headphones. "Young people are listening to their iPods at a very high level, and wearing earbuds which puts [music] right into their ear."

While hearing loss is permanent, it's completely preventable.

That's why the House Research Institute and Kiss leader Paul Stanley joined forces to educate teens on how to protect their hearing at "Sound Rules! A Sound & Hearing Celebration." The after-school event took place at the Director's Guild of America Theatre in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 12.

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