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Noise-induced hearing loss is on the rise among adolescents in the United States, according to the National Institute of Health.

One contributing factor to hearing loss is listening to MP3 players and other devices at high volumes, according to audiologist Dr. Naikai Butler with Hearing Service of North Texas. Most people do not think much about how loud sounds coming from phones, MP3 players, tablets, or computers pose a serious risk to their hearing health.

'Sound is measured in units called decibels, and sometimes if we get those levels up too loud, it can cause a hearing loss,' Dr. Butler said.

To compare the volume of sounds that you hear, a whisper is between 10-20 decibels, normal conversation is closer to 50 decibels, and a hair dryer in use measures about 85 decibels.

Dr. Butler said most MP3 players can produce up to 115 decibels of sounds. That level is similar to a leaf blower or a chainsaw. She said it is much too loud, and exposure for an extended period of time can cause hearing loss.

To reduce the risk of hearing loss for young children, she suggested several options that can also help adults.

You can lower the maximum setting in your or your child's MP3 player or using volume-limiting headphones. A volume limiting adaptor is also available for as little as $10.

For adults want to prevent hearing loss while using listening devices, the type of earphones or headphones will aid in prevention.

Avoid using the round, generic, standard ear buds, because they do not fit and let in background noise. Ear buds with the triple flange or those custom-made by an audiologist work best.

When there is a lot of background noise, there is a tenancy to turn up the volume. Experts suggest using over-the-ear head phones that drown out background noise.

Besides using correct hearing devices, Butler also suggested using hearing protection in loud invironments to prevent hearing loss. For instance, attendances at a live concert or mowing the lawn are reasons to wear protective gear.

The signs of hearing loss are varied, but usually occur gradually and get worse over time. Here are obvious signs of hearing loss:

-Difficulty understanding speech when in groups or crowds
-Decreased clarity of speech -- women and children seem like they are mumbling
-Others state the television volume is very loud
-Asking others to repeat themselves

If experiencing any of the above symptoms, contact your doctor or audiologist immediate for assistance.

Email - spowell@wfaa.com

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