Healthwatch: Hear What You're Missing

While fun for many, hearing specialists say damage caused by loud music in cars is far from being a joy ride.

"You actually wouldn't notice the affects until you've been exposed to it for about four or five years."

According to audiologist Laura Hunter with the Meridian Speech and Hearing Center this happens to many people.

"A lot of parents come in and say, 'My child's not doing well in school. They are not understanding instruction.' Teachers just a lot of times are not aware that the child's just not hearing."

According to Hunter, that's why many students may ask teachers or parents to repeat themselves so many times. If exposure to this loud noise continues, she says that sounds to the person affected often become muffled.

Meanwhile, she says there are other causes for this type hearing loss among people of any age. For example, she says prolonged exposure to things as common as lawnmowers, gunshots while hunting or carpentry work cause hearing loss. In these cases she says earplugs can help.

When it comes to earplugs, audiologists say there's one common mistake that many people make. They say often before inserting the plugs people squish the tip and then insert it, something which they say should not be done.

"Because when the foam actually expands," says Hunter, "it starts coming out of the ear. You need to actually hold it in your ear until the foam expands and then it will stay."

Meanwhile, Hunter suggests keeping all volume levels at a midpoint as much as possible, especially when listening to something that has earphones like an iPod. By doing this she says you can not only save your child's hearing but perhaps even your own.

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