By Inger Furholt
Staff reporter

Cell phones, iPods, stereos, and noisy equipment in general used over a longer period of time has had a negative effect on young ears, as they’ve become a part of the daily “necessities” in many young people’s lives.

Young bodies with old tired ears have become more common among young adults these days, as there are noises to be found involuntarily and voluntarily everywhere in society. The loss of hearing abilities in young people has drastically developed as everyday life has changed from what it used to be to what it is now. Mostly every college student out there now owns a cell phone, some sort of an MP3 player, a television, a stereo, and maybe some sort of video game, that can often be turned up too loud for the maximum effect.

The National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders calls a hearing loss amongst young people like this Noise Induced Hearing Loss. They say that constant exposure to loud noises, or sometimes even just a onetime exposure to an intense “impulse” sound, can cause this kind of hearing loss to occur. There are sensitive structures in the ear, also known as hair cells, and according to the National Institute of Deafness they are the little things that convert sounds into electrical signals that travel to the brain. Once one of these hair cells is damaged they do not grow back. High noises, constant noises, etc., can cause a human to lose these hair cells, which can ruin the ability to hear for the rest of a person’s lifetime.

Rachel Ratcliffe, biology junior, does already at a young age have problems with loss of hearing, and said she wishes that people would be more concerned about what they actually do to their ears and their hearing. “Young adults often listen to music way too loud on their stereos and iPod’s, and this will probably deplete their hearing,” said Ratcliffe. “I have had difficulties with hearing certain noises and voices. Sometimes I even have to try to read lips. As someone who already has difficulties hearing, I think it is important for other young adults to treat their ears like they want to be able to hear for the rest of their lives.”

According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication, 26 million Americans have high frequency hearing loss. Hearing loss can start with a constant ringing in the ears and become more serious as time goes by.

Jason Bond, history senior, has heard about the issue of young adults losing their hearing earlier in life than what used to be normal, but says he hasn’t really given it much thought. “It would not surprise me at all that people lose their hearing at an early age. Every day life of many is filled with movies, video games, music and other stuff that we listen to, sometimes with a high volume,” said Bond.

If a person is worried about having a hearing loss at an early age, a hearing test can easily establish that concern.

Jane Kaufman, Osteopathic Clinic nurse practitioner, said, “Young adults often suffer from hearing loss, because of loud music directly into their ears, concerts, and also phones. It is all pretty much common sense. To prevent hearing loss you should think about how loud you listen to music, and the volume on the television.”

Young people often tend to think they will stay healthy for the rest of their lives and do not realize that something they do now, or expose themselves too, can have an effect in the long run. Turning down the volume now, and being aware of the noises in ones surroundings, can help a person to not have to turn the volume up later in life and still struggle to hear.

Inger Marie Furholt is a senior majoring in journalism. You may e-mail her at inger.furholt@sckans.edu.