BY ANA VECIANA-SUAREZ
Three years ago, when the noise level at the American Airlines Arena shrieked to a deafening level, fan Adele Sandberg covered her ears and winced. Intent on the fast-paced court action, she didn’t yet know about the growing danger of hearing loss. She didn’t know yet that preventing it would become her passion.
But with the cheers and the loudspeaker announcements still echoing in her ears, Sandberg returned home to North Miami Beach and began researching hearing loss. What she discovered shocked her: One of five U.S. teenagers suffers from some form of noise-induced hearing loss by the age of 19. And more than 50 percent of U.S. high school students have reported at least one symptom of hearing loss, such as ringing in the ears.
The problem is getting worse. One study concluded that the proportion of second graders with some form of hearing loss had doubled in the past 10 years, while the proportion of eighth graders had quadrupled.
“We have an epidemic of hearing loss, and I don’t say this lightly,” said Sandberg, 70. “A lot of people suffer from this but don’t know it because it’s so gradual. And once it happens, it’s irreversible.”
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