“What?” “Huh?” If you have a teenage son, you hear these multiple times a day. Earbuds and loud music are a sweet escape from parents and the outside world. My friends say their sons only clearly hear two words: “free” and “pizza.” It’s funny because it’s true. But I’m not laughing anymore. It’s not a joke for us. My son really isn’t hearing me.
A few years ago, my sweet, responsible, high school son complained that teachers were starting to get mad at him for not following directions. He said he just didn’t hear what the teacher said. I didn’t believe him. Hearing loss in a teen? Not likely. It must be an attention problem, right?
Off to our family doctor. He thought maybe it was ADD or Attention Deficit Disorder. That’s what it sounds like, doesn’t it? I believed and he prescribed. Holy meds disaster! My boy took medication, but he was getting so tired and sick. He hated them! We went through three different doctors and meds. Sad and exhausted with side effects, we decided that we needed help outside our small town clinic.
We started over. We shared our story with a new clinic. The new doctor assessed my son, noticed those ever present earbuds and the first question she asked was, “Can I listen to what you’re listening to?” He gave her his earbuds and turned on the music. She jumped a foot! It was so loud that I could hear it from across the room. She asked him some questions about his music, took him for some tests, contacted an audiologist and we waited. What did his music have to do with ADD? She called us back in and said, “The problem isn’t ADD. It’s hearing loss. Your son is in the early stages of noise-induced hearing loss and it is irreversible.” I couldn’t believe it. Now what?
Now we are using an amplified listening device to help him hear the teacher’s voice. We are dealing with it. We are moving forward. But please, please, please learn from our story. Hearing loss isn’t just for the elderly. It can affect any person who is subjecting his or her ears to loud noises. In this crazy loud world we live in, all people need to be aware of this growing problem.
Hearing loss in teens? Yep, it’s a thing.