Cell phones, iPods and other technological devices may have enhanced people's lives, but they may also be contributing to the recent increase of adolescent hearing loss.

    "It seems that with the abusive use of iPods and other devices it is getting greater in teens," said Dr. Seth Budney, an audiologist for Beltone, a leading hearing device manufacturer.


     Cell phones, iPods and other technological devices may have enhanced people's lives, but they may also be contributing to the recent increase of adolescent hearing loss.
    "It seems that with the abusive use of iPods and other devices it is getting greater in teens," said Dr. Seth Budney, an audiologist for Beltone, a leading hearing device manufacturer. 
    Once thought of as a problem for the elderly, hearing loss is becoming more widespread in children and teens.
    According to a John Hopkins study, 8.5 percent of people in their 20s have some level of hearing loss. 
    Budney said that while medical conditions do account for some hearing loss in children and young people, 95 percent of hearing loss occurs from over-exposure to high frequency noise that cause sensory hearing loss.
    "Noise can be like a poison that can damage hearing," Budney said.
    He added that there was a wide range of hearing devices geared toward this type of hearing loss, which is most prevalent in young adults.
    The Better Hearing Institute also released a study this year showing the problems associated with leaving hearing loss untreated. The study found that nearly 1.5 million people under the age of 21 have hearing loss that could be helped by amplification, yet many do not seek treatment.
    In fact, only 12 percent of children under the age of 18 with hearing loss use hearing aids. The parents of the kids in the study cited the embarrassment of wearing hearing aid devices, the cost of hearing aids or misinformation as reasons why they do not seek treatment for their kids.
    The decision to ignore hearing loss has social, behavioral and intellectual consequences. 
    "Children need to be able to hear, not just in the classroom, but also because hearing affects language competence, cognitive development, social and emotional well-being and academic achievement," said Sergei Kochkin, executive director of BHI in a news release Monday.
    Hearing loss not only affects children's performance in the classroom, but can also lead to problems developing social skills, speech and language development, self-esteem and relationships with peers and family.
 Miracle-Ear, a hearing device company, advises parents to get their children's hearing checked regularly, starting at birth. If a child could benefit from amplification, they are advised to use the proper hearing devices to help youths improve their hearing and perform better in the classroom and other places of development.
    Miracle-Ear offers a free audiometric hearing test to assess hearing and determine an individual's degree of hearing loss, if any. Miracle-Ear is located inside the Dodge City Wal-Mart Supercenter at 1905 N. 14th Ave.

    Reach Cherise Forno at (620) 408-9931 or e-mail her at cherise.forno@dodgeglobe.com.