Last updated on Apr 12, 2018
Monica Schneider: To think about if you haven’t already, headphones causing hearing loss? Well, new numbers suggest that teenagers today are at a truly great risk. Dr. Sreek Cherukuri is joining us here on set to discuss this. Headphones, how big of a problem are we talking about?
Dr. Cherukuri: Compared to just a few, a decade or two ago, there’s a 30% increase in hearing loss in kids under the age of 20.
Monica Schneider: What kind of headphones are we talking about, the full blast or earbuds?
Dr. Cherukuri: What happened is, back in my teenage days, the Walkman used to have an over the ear foam headphone and didn’t get that loud and play that long, so the batteries died. Now the MP3 players, the iPods, that they can get up to 115 decibels and go for hours on end. At that volume, in as little as 15 minutes you can cause permanent noise-related hearing loss.
Monica Schneider: You have some information in terms of statistical and we have a graphic with some of those numbers. Now, 1 in 6 teens is showing symptoms.
Dr. Cherukuri: 1 in 6 teens has some slight or mild level of hearing loss.
Monica Schneider: Also, some of these other numbers that you’ve supplied us with. That’s a lot of teens that are using headphones, 81%?
Dr. Cherukuri: Yeah, oh yeah. I mean, most kids now, it’s very common in the media to see the athletes and celebrities wearing the headphones.
Monica Schneider: And it’s going up.
Dr. Cherukuri: The rates of not only headphone use but the hearing loss, are going up.
Monica Schneider: You brought this model along of sort of the ear canal and whatever, so explain what’s happening. We’re basically bombarding the inside of our heads with too much noise?
Dr. Cherukuri: It’s exactly right. Here’s the ear, kind of a blown-up model. When we wear an in the ear earbud, the actual receiver is sitting closer to the eardrum and it can get much louder than an over the ear headphone. Again, using it for too long at too loud can cause permanent noise-related hearing loss at the nerve level. Nose-related hearing loss is the only preventable type of hearing loss that we know of. What we call it is the 60/60 rule. Wear it at 60% maximum volume for 60 minutes or less, and then take a break, because if your ears get a break from the noise, it’s less likely to cause any damage.
Monica Schneider: Really? If you’re doing this for an hour or less with your favorite earbuds no matter what you’re using, or your headphones, there’s a chance that you’re going to save yourself by just taking a break?
Dr. Cherukuri: Absolutely, but it has to be 60% of the maximum volume. It shouldn’t be at the-
Monica Schneider: Max full volume.
Dr. Cherukuri: Max full volume.
Monica Schneider: Okay, max full volume, of course-
Dr. Cherukuri: Again, full volume as little as 15 minutes can cause permanent damage.
Monica Schneider: It’s preventable if you do the right thing, but once it happens and the hearing loss is there, then what?
Dr. Cherukuri: That’s the problem. What you may notice in your 30’s to 40’s is you’re having trouble hearing colleagues at work, or the spouse, or the family members. You know, we used to think of hearing loss as an elderly problem. Actually, as of today’s statistics, the majority of people with hearing loss are under the age of 65.
Monica Schneider: No way.
Dr. Cherukuri: Many of them are still in the workplace and interacting at a very high level.
Monica Schneider: When you think your colleagues are ignoring you or don’t like you, it could be just that they didn’t hear you.
Dr. Cherukuri: It could be they didn’t hear you.
Monica Schneider: Hearing aids, you know nobody wants to think about wearing those either. They can be expensive. You have some other ideas in that regard?
Dr. Cherukuri: Yeah, so typically hearing aids cost up to $5,000 each and Medicare and most insurance companies don’t cover them. When we think hearing aid, we think big, bulky product that’s a little bit not appealing visually.
Monica Schneider: Some options, hearing aid-wise?
Dr. Cherukuri: Yeah. We have some new technology. My company is called MDHearingAid and we provide medical grade, FDA registered hearing aids at up to 90% less cost. Our newest one is called-
Monica Schneider: How can you do that?
Dr. Cherukuri: Well, we manufacture our own and we just put the most necessary features and leave out some of the expensive features…
Monica Schneider: They still work, huh?
Dr. Cherukuri: They work great. I mean, we have a very high…
Monica Schneider: You brought an example along which really, it’s kind of in there and you don’t really see it.
Dr. Cherukuri: Yes, so our latest model is call the MDHearingAid FIT. It’s designed like an in-ear music monitor or a custom hearing aid. It’s more of the wearable or hearable form factor, which is kind of the buzzword lately. You just slip it in your ear and within a minute you’re hearing better. It looks unlike any other hearing aid on the market.
Monica Schneider: Does it get rid of that thing that hearing aid users complain about sometimes? That they’re not hearing things, they’re hearing extraneous noise and it just gets confusing, so they pull them out?
Dr. Cherukuri: Yeah, so there’s a lot of background noise, or whistling, and things like that. This MDHearingAid FIT has the highest level, most advanced technology, with regards to those things.
Monica Schneider: Not that I want to be doing a commercial for you, but this thing sounds pretty cool.
Dr. Cherukuri: You know what? I have hearing loss from being a DJ, in my left ear.
Monica Schneider: Really, a doctor and a DJ? Okay.
Dr. Cherukuri: It is starting to impact me, and so when I need a hearing aid, MDHearingAid FIT, without a doubt.
Monica Schneider: Well, Dr. Cherukuri, thank you so much for coming out today. Some important information. It’s like pull back on the headphones.
Dr. Cherukuri: Absolutely.
Monica Schneider: Doctor, thank you.
Dr. Cherukuri: Thank you for your time.
Monica Schneider: We’re going to take a break, take a look at weather, and be back with more news.