Q: Hi Dr. Manny – I’d like to know what age you are susceptible to going deaf or losing your hearing due to loud music?

A: More than 37 million Americans have hearing loss and noise-induced hearing loss can strike at any age.

It is caused by loud or prolonged sounds that damage the small structures in the inner ear, called hair cells

These small sensory cells convert sound energy into electrical signals, and once they are damaged, they don’t grow back.

With today’s audio technology, high-risk groups for noise-induced hearing loss are becoming younger and younger. In fact, recent studies show that one out of five teenagers suffer from some sort of hearing loss.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of all cases are caused by over-exposure to extreme sound levels above 85 decibels.

If you are wondering how loud that is – consider this: A typical rock concert averages around 105 decibels, a level which can damage unprotected ears after just four minutes of exposure.

The good news? Noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented, if you follow these precautions:
• Avoid loud or prolonged noises when possible.

• Wear ear protection when you must be in a loud environment.

• Don’t try to drown out unwanted noise with other sounds.

• Don’t use several noisy appliances at the same time.

• Opt for headphones over ear buds and keep the volume at 60 percent or less.

• Have your hearing checked on a regular basis.

According to the experts at House Research Institute -- a non-profit hearing research and educational facility in Los Angeles – a good rule of thumb is if you have to raise your voice to be heard, you are in an environment where you need to limit your exposure time or protect your ears.

If you have a question you’d like Dr. Manny to answer – e-mail him at DrManny@foxnews.com.