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In the past hearing loss seemed to be an unhealthy malady that cursed older men who had worked with loud machinery. Grinders, pounders, pneumatic drills were part and parcel of the equipment that was needed on the job.

I remember working on the line at Kelvinator installing fittings for the liners for the fridges There were no ear plugs or concern for future hearing loss. At the end of each eight hour shift our ears buzzed a little and the norm was to raise our voices to speak to our friends.

Recently the Journal of American Medical Association has found that over the past few years a thirty per cent increase in hearing loss in adolescents has occurred. On average the hearing loss of a 35 year old is equivalent to a 50 year old American. We can hypothesize that the stats that in Canada are on the same hearing loss channel as our American neighbors.

Take a drive down Richmond Row with your car windows open beside a group of teen age drivers and you don’t have to turn your radio on. The kids turn up the vibes and the large speakers in the back of the vehicles seem to rock.

Our youth are caught up with MP3s and CD players attachments to their ears where they can turn up the music as loud as they want. Take in a rock concert and you will not hear complaints from the listeners that the music is way too loud. The speakers are set out in front of the band who intelligently wear musician grade hearing plugs that protect their ears from the blaring sound. Often times the poor lonely drummer is in a glass encased enclosure to protect his fellow players from the pounding of his drums.

I still remember when I was a teacher at Montcalm Secondary School attending a hockey game at the area. The drums/trumpet calls and screams of plus 800 students was very deafening. When I left the rink I was a little deaf and disorientated and had to sit down for a while to figure out where I had left my car.

A friend of mine. Dr. Syd Sukerman, who is an Otolaryngologist, Ear, Nose and Throat Physician taught me that: “The noise induced hearing loss was all about the loudness and duration of the sound that one is exposed to.

90 decibels of loud sound in a work setting you are allowed 6 hours of exposure. 95 decibels is equivalent to 3 hours and 100 decibels is ok for up to one hour.
The good doctor’s wife Shelley, was very kind and sent along an article written by Robert Harrison Phd,, “Noise-induced hearing loss: A ‘less than silent’ environmental danger”. His report warns of: ‘Hearing impairment loss among children and teenagers mostly due to voluntary exposure to loud noise (ie. using personal entertainment devices or attending amplified sound concerts)’.

There is some practical advice about preventing noise induced hearing loss. ‘If possible keep the setting of the amplification below 85dB. The parents should help their children to keep the output in the comfortable range. In this regard for a youngster who is constantly listening to music , it is advisable to take periodic 15-20 minute breaks to allow the inner ear to recover.

Parents are encouragec to try and encourage their children to try and save their hearing in order to hear the music in the future.

Many of our youth who are now abusing their hearing may be cupping their hands over their ears when they reach their late 20's may be asking: Eh what did you say? I can’ t hear you. For more information Google, Dangerous Decibels.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com