There is a prevailing myth that hearing loss only happens to the elderly. To be sure, the rate of hearing degeneration does increase with age, but that doesn't mean that young people are immune from it. In fact, if recent data is to be believed, the rate of hearing loss is actually increasing across all age groups and demographics.
By the most recent count, 20% of the population in the United States suffers from some form of hearing loss. That number translates into nearly 50 million people, and not all of them are senior citizens. In fact, experts are now warning that the average age for patients reporting hearing problems has plummeted over the past decade. In years past, patients started complaining of difficulty hearing around the age of 65. Now, however, it's starting to happen at about 50.
So what accounts for this increase in hearing loss? And what can you do to stop it?
Loud Noises Take a Toll
The increase in hearing degeneration is due in large part to the rise of noise-induced hearing loss. As the name implies, this condition is the result of taking in sounds that are so loud that they actually cause damage to your body. Inside your ears you have thousands of tiny hair cells that capture sounds and turn them into electrical impulses that are the interpreted by the brain. When these hair cells are exposed to excessively loud noises, they can become damaged and stop functioning properly, leading to hearing loss.
In order to avoid this problem, experts recommend avoiding sounds that are too loud, and this includes a number of things that you likely encounter every day. For example, most hair dryers emit sounds in excess of the 80 decibels, which is the point where hearing loss begins. Similarly, blenders and food processors are also loud enough to damage your hearing.
Nowadays, perhaps the most common culprits of noise-induced hearing loss are personal listening devices. Smartphones, tablets and MP3 players are all capable of unleashing sounds well in excess of 80 decibels, and their damaging effects are intensified by earbuds that sit deeper within the ear canal.
To avoid noise-induced hearing loss, experts recommend limiting the amount of time you expose yourself to dangerous sound levels. For example, see if you can get away with not blow-drying your hair every day, or walk away from the blender for a few seconds when it’s in use. Additionally, limit the volume on personal devices to about 60% of their capability, and try to reduce your use to less than an hour a day.
Sadly, hearing loss can happen to anyone at any age. But if you take the proper precautionary measures, you can keep loud noises at bay and preserve your hearing well into old age.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about hearing loss and how to treat it, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!