With the startling rise in teen hearing loss revealing a 31 percent increase over the past decade, the Starkey Hearing Foundation – joined by recording artist and actress Miley Cyrus – has launched the Listen Carefully campaign.

As Better Hearing and Speech Month gets underway this May, the extra attention raised by the Listen Carefully campaign for hearing health and protection could not be timelier.

For the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which strives to change the social consciousness of hearing and hearing health care, the goal of the Listen Carefully campaign is to spread the word among young people and adults to protect their hearing by lowering the volume – a simple solution with long-term impact.

Cyrus is getting involved through the campaign’s Listen Carefully Sweepstakes, which runs through June 15, 2011. The sweepstakes invites fans to enter for a chance to win a “listening experience” with the famous singer and actress during a sound check as she prepares for her performance at the Starkey Hearing Foundation’s Annual Awards Gala on July 24 in Minneapolis, which the winner and a guest will also have an opportunity to attend. Miley also helped officially launch the campaign with a series of public service ads that deliver a clear message – “your hearing is fragile, so don’t listen loudly, listen carefully.”

“As an artist, I want to make sure fans are able to experience the magic of music as it was intended,” said Cyrus. “By just lowering the volume and using the right protection for your ears, hearing loss can be prevented, which means never losing the ability to enjoy the sound of a guitar, a beautiful lyric or a favorite song.”

Miley Cyrus first became involved with the Starkey Hearing Foundation during a recent trip to Haiti, where she joined the Foundation on a mission to distribute hearing aids to those in need. During the trip, Miley learned about the Listen Carefully campaign and was quick to jump on board to lend her support.

“With 6.5 million teens recognized with some level of hearing loss, Better Hearing and Speech Month is a great time for us to inform parents and young people about just how fragile one’s hearing is and the need to protect it,” said Bill Austin, Chief Executive Officer of Starkey Laboratories and Founder of the Starkey Hearing Foundation. “The majority of teen hearing loss is preventable, and it is our hope that the Listen Carefully campaign, with support from entertainers like Miley Cyrus, can make a difference.”

According to the Starkey Hearing Foundation, loud sounds such as music pumping through headphones and ear buds at too high a volume, have the ability to destroy the tiny hair cells in the inner ear over time. These tiny hair cells are essential in converting sound waves into messages and nerve impulses that are sent to the brain as sounds. If just 30 percent of these hair cells are damaged or destroyed, one will experience hearing loss.

For an online hearing test, tips on hearing loss prevention, and more, visit starkeyhearingfoundation.org. There, you will also find information on the Listen Carefully campaign and how to enter the Starkey Hearing Foundation Listen Carefully Sweepstakes with Miley Cyrus.

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