Its hard to find a teenager – or a “tweenager” – these days who does not have an iPod, iPhone or similar MP3 or smartphone device that they spend a lot of their time plugged into.
Most adults are aware of the fact that listening to an iPod, especially if you use the “in ear” headphones they come with, can damage your hearing over time. A great many teenagers have been told this as well but the problem is that most of them do nothing about it. and some may not even realize that they have their music and their games and videos too loud.
One study of 30 teenagers conducted jointly between researchers from Colorado University and The Children’s Hospital in Boston, MA found that most of the study participants did not even think that they kept the volume too loud on their personal music players and smartphones.
What the researchers were able to conclude is that listening to 90 minutes of music a day, using earbuds, at 80% volume on the iPod or iPhone appeared not to affect hearing. If the volume was turned down to 70% that time increased to 4 hours. So there should be very few problems, if the volume is kept down and teens (and everyone else) do not spend the whole day “plugged in”.
The difficulty was that the researchers found that many of the kids kept the volume on their devices at 90% or even at full volume and that can start damaging hearing in the long term with just 5 minutes a days use.
The answer then, it seems, is not too listen too loud for too long. This can be hard to enforce with teens of course as they do have a tendency to do the exact opposite of hat their parents an other adults tell them to. Perhaps though if they realize that unless they turn the volume down they might be replacing their iPod ear-buds with a couple of hearing aids in the not so distant future then they might be persuaded to listen a little more responsibly.
Just like some degree hearing loss is a part of the human aging process it is also a part of a pet’s aging process as well. Cats and dogs often experience hearing loss as they get older and while your vet may be able to help to a certain extent – removing excess wax build up for example – there may come a time in your pet’s life when you have to accept the reality of living with a hearing impaired furry friend. This might take some getting used to but life with your cat or dog can still be every bit as rewarding for you – and them – as it ever was with a few minor adjustments.
Signs that a Pet is Suffering from Hearing Loss
All of the following are signs that your pet may not be hearing as well as they used to:
- Does your pet jump or startle when you approach them from behind, or when they don;t have a clear view of you entering the room?
- Has your dog stopped reacting when they hear the doorbell ring or someone enter the home?
- Does your pet shake their head a lot or paw at their ears? This may be a sign of an ear infection.
- Does it seem that your dog has become more disobedient and has stopped obeying your vocal commands in the way he used to? If so chances are that he is not being naughty he just can’t hear you anymore.
Helping Your Pet Live with Hearing Loss
Some causes of pet hearing loss can be treated but usually age related hearing loss is permanent. Here are some easy things that you can do to help your hearing impaired pet live a full life:
- Vocal commands – sit, stay, stop – are probably no longer an option. Loud stomps can be a solution because your pet will feel the vibration even if they cannot hear it. Some dogs can also be taught to respond to simple hand signals.
- Approach your pet slowly to interact with them if you are just entering the room where they are. Because they cannot hear your approach anymore they may become startled or upset and over time that could change the way they react to people.
- When they are outside hearing impaired dogs should be kept on a leash. They cannot hear the approach of other animals or cars anymore so they are in danger if they are left to roam alone. If a cat has been used to going outside they should be brought inside and kept there, they just don’t have what it takes to survive outside once they cannot hear danger.
Dealing with hearing loss – whether it is hearing loss in a child or a senior dealing with the hearing loss associated with aging – can be very hard and it can also be very expensive. Many of the advances that are being made in both the treatment and prevention of hearing loss are pretty amazing but most of them come with a high price tag attached to them.
For those dealing with hearing loss and their families the emotional toll can be a high one too, and finding people who understand all the challenges they are facing and can offer support can be hard as well.
Back in 2006 in the US the National Hearing Loss Association decided to make a big positive step to help people dealing with hearing loss by organizing an annual Walk4Hearing event to help raise funds and awareness about what is a large but sometimes overlooked problem for people everywhere of all ages.
The walks are now held every year in major cities all over the country in both the spring and fall and individuals who take part can help raise funds for research, treatment and counseling to help people all over the country.
To learn more about Walk4Hearing, or to register for an event near you, you can visit the event’s official website at http://hlaa.convio.net