You’ve probably seen the imagery a hundred times - an old man or woman with a hearing aid, tottering along with their walking cane yelling “what?” to every question. While comical, this kind of representation is grossly inaccurate.
Hearing loss is not just an “old person” problem; it’s a common form of impairment that impacts around 466 million people worldwide. Of those 466 million, 34 million of them are children. Furthermore, an additional 1.1 billion young people between the ages of 12-35 are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to loud noises. As per the WHO’s estimation, one out of every ten people will suffer from disabling hearing loss by 2050.
That’s a lot of people, young and old!
What are the Reasons Behind the Sudden Surge in Hearing Loss in Young Adults?
While inaccurate, the traditional viewpoint of hearing loss being an “old person” problem is not without a logical cause; as we age, our hearing naturally gets worse. Therefore, hearing loss with age is common; every one in three adults above the age of 65 years suffers from hearing loss or its complications.
But now, we are seeing a surge in the number of young adults reporting partial or total hearing loss as well. It is becoming a common condition affecting young adults at a higher rate than before.
While the causes can vary from person to person, one of the primary reasons behind this is the drastic change in lifestyle. Young adults today prefer to listen to loud music, they go to clubs and concerts where music is loud enough not to hear the person standing next to him. We spend hours listening to music at a loudness level that should be limited to mere minutes. Habits like smoking and drinking also impact hearing in adults. Apart from that, our more modern, stationary lifestyles and schedules give rise to the complications in young people's health.
The Importance of Taking Care of Hearing From a Young Age
Now that we’ve established that hearing loss can impact you at any age, let’s get started early. The best advice is to get tested regularly, even from a young age! Screening at an early age will only help you in detecting the problem at the most initial phase. It is better to know the problem earlier, as the chances of it getting treated on time increases.
For children specifically, screening and receiving treatment early is incredibly important. Around 60% of hearing loss in children is preventable. These preventable causes of hearing loss include:
- Severe infections such as measles, rubella, mumps, meningitis, cytomegalovirus infections, and also chronic otitis media. (37%)
- Complications at the time of birth, such as birth asphyxia, low birth weight, prematurity, and jaundice (17%).
- Use of ototoxic medicines in expecting mothers and babies (4%).
- Others (8%)
Receiving hearing care from a young age enhances patient confidence to communicate well in society and avoid any delay in speech, language, cognitive, and social development. All of this can help ensure that the patient doesn't have communication roadblocks in the future and will lead a healthy life.
Precautions To Avoid Hearing Loss For Young Adults
- Avoid Loud Noises
Listening to loud sounds can impact your hearing in the long run. If you cannot hear the person standing next to you, you should know that the sound is too loud for your ears. Explosions, loud music from speakers, power tools like drills, these sounds are loud enough to impact your hearing.
Be a Quiet Enforcer
Consider buying devices and appliances that don't make too much noise. If possible, try to adjust the volume to a lower setting as well.
- Wear Hearing Protection
If you are at such places with loud sounds, carry earring protection such as earplugs and earmuffs. These devices reduce sounds by 15 to 30 decibels.
Remove Earwax Properly
Do not use a cotton swab or any foreign product in your ear to remove earwax. It will end up pushing the wax deeper into the ear, or it may damage the inner canal. Use an irrigation kit to soften the wax or contact your doctor to remove it.
Check Medications for Hearing Risks
There are around 200 drugs that can trigger hearing impairment. Those include some antibiotics and cancer-fighting drugs. Aspirin taken in higher doses can also cause hearing loss. Take advice from your doctor before taking such medicines.
Have Your Hearing Tested
If there anyone in your family is suffering from hearing loss or experiencing trouble hearing conversations, consult a doctor. Get your hearing tested if you stay around loud noises regularly and hear ringing in your ears often.
The information in this guide has been written using the following reliable sources: