How much do you consider your hearing when you are in your teenage years or in your 20s?
Unfortunately, it is not always something that is top of mind. Many people are exposed to noise trauma that can permanently damage hearing during this period of their lives. For certain groups, such as those serving in the armed forces, this is challenging to prevent. However, there is an alarming trend in the general population when it comes to exposing our ears to dangerous sound levels on a regular basis.
The World Health Organization recently put out a report indicating that over 1 BILLION teens and young adults are at risk of hearing damage. This is a staggering number, but in a sense, the information is not all that surprising. The reason for this number is the common misuse of headphones (who hasn’t heard someone’s music from across a crowded bus?) and exposure to events where loud sound and loud music are the goal of the venue. Because these trends are increasing, there is a greater need than ever to give young people an idea of the risks of this noise exposure. This way, they can make an informed choice.
Safe listening levels may not be exciting, but if you are a young person who chooses to get “the most out of music” by turning up the volume, you should be aware that there are some potentially serious consequences. Hearing loss is the most obvious, but it is not the only one. It is also common for those with hearing loss to develop tinnitus: a constant ringing, hissing or buzzing. You can get a better appreciation for how tinnitus can affect your life, even when young by taking some time to view this.
In addition to this, there is now research suggesting that there may be other effects of young people abusing their ears: depression, anxiety and even thoughts of suicide. In fact, a recent study suggested that those between 16 and 25 years old who experience permanent hearing symptoms were at least TWICE as likely to have symptoms of depression and thoughts of suicide.
Given the trends for hearing abuse among young people, there are clearly many reasons to create more awareness now.
Despite all of the harsh facts and information covered here, it is not all doom and gloom. Music is a great source of enjoyment for us and there is no reason to stop enjoying it if we are mindful of the proper way to do so. Headphones can also be a great way to listen, but too many people feel the need to crank up the volume even if they have around-the-ear noise-cancelling headphones. These headphones are designed to bring the sound closer to your ear and to help you tune out the outside environment. Because of this, you don’t have to set the volume as high. In fact, the hearing system in the brain adapts to sound so that you can enjoy the music at a safe volume.
We want to do our part to inform people without tinnitus about ways to prevent hearing-related issues. At the same time, even those with hearing damage, can still take steps to protect their hearing. If you are fortunate enough not to deal with tinnitus or to have good hearing, we hope you will consider ways to protect something we often take for granted.
If you consider this now, you will thank yourself in later years.
Study on young people, exposure to loud music, and effects of hearing damage: