A recent study showed that 8 out of 10 New Yorkers are exposed to enough noise to damage their hearing. While this may not seem surprising, given the level of noise that a large city provides, what is surprising is that many of them voluntarily exposed themselves to potentially damaging levels of noise by listening to music.

If your teenager is sitting next to you listening to music via ear buds, can you hear the music? If so, chances are your teen is listening to their music at a volume loud enough to do permanent damage to their hearing.

While aging is the primary cause of hearing loss in the United States, noise is second, according to Brian Fligor of the Boston Children’s Hospital. Some studies have shown that between 15 and 25 percent of teens listen to music at high enough volumes to cause hearing lost.

“The majority of kids don’t turn their headphones too loud. [But] for ear buds, my rule of thumb is 80 percent of maximum volume for 90 minutes a day,” stated Fligor.

While listening to music above the recommended volume for short spurts is not likely to cause hearing loss, the concern comes when teens listen to music through ear buds for extended periods of time.

If your teen is like most when it comes to listening to music, experts suggest regular hearing loss screening in addition to parents setting volume and time limits for their children.

Ramie Tritt, M.D., President, Atlanta ENT