People tend to connect hearing loss to aging. I get that, but seniors aren’t the only ones who can experience hearing loss. The younger generation should be concerned about their own risk of hearing loss. Noise-induced hearing loss is a growing problem among members of the younger generation around the world, including right here in Hardin County.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is a Thing for Younger People
Let’s start with what noise-induced hearing loss is. It could happen as a result of a one-time exposure to an intense noise like a firecracker. In most cases, the cause is repeated exposure to excessive noise over a period of time. Regular participation in activities like these put you at risk for noise-induced hearing loss:
- Working around noisy machinery
- Listening to earbuds or headphones at a high volume
- Attending concerts or sporting events
- Visiting dance clubs
In the past, most of the people with noise-induced hearing loss were workers in noisy environments such as factory employees and musicians. Today noise-induced hearing loss is affecting many younger people whose recreational activities are exposing them to harmful levels of noise. For example, a recent study of 18 to 27 years olds found no difference in noise exposure between musicians and non-musicians.
There’s more evidence noisy jobs aren’t the key factor in putting young people’s hearing at risk. The World Health Organization says 1.1 billion people in the world from age 12 to 35 are at risk of noise-induced hearing loss that’s not work-related. In the United States, over half (53 percent) of the adults under age 70 with noise-induced hearing loss don’t work in noisy environments.
Unfortunately, these statistics are confirmed by the young people who come into my office for hearing loss treatment. At our hearing center, we’re treating younger patients for noise-induced hearing loss who have never had workplace exposure to excessive noise. These patients, who are frequently in their 30s, have been exposed to too much noise during leisure activities like hunting.
You Can Protect Your Hearing
Preventing noise-induced hearing loss is possible. When you’re using earbuds or headphones, the device’s volume should be set at 60 percent or lower. Avoiding noisy environments is ideal. When you can’t avoid noisy conditions, wear hearing protection. Music earplugs are designed to reduce sound without distorting it, which makes them an excellent choice for music festivals, concerts, and clubs. At those events, staying away from the source of the sound is also helpful.
Safety earmuffs block sound, but they have to fit correctly. They’re a good option for anyone who participates in activities that involve noisy equipment such as mowing lawns, hunting, or using power tools.
Hearing Aids and the Cool Factor
Hearing aid technology has come a long way in the last 20 years. Your childhood memories may include an older relative who wore a bulky hearing aid. Today’s hearing aids are tiny and barely noticeable. However, since hearing loss and hearing aids are losing their stigma, you can find social media pages dedicated to decorating hearing aids to draw attention to them.
If you or someone you know has been experiencing uncomfortable hearing loss symptoms, contact our team to schedule an appointment.
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