Rates of Hearing Loss Dropping in Younger Populations

Dr. Maria Wynens, Au.D.Blog-post, Hearing Loss Prevention, News

Rates of Hearing Loss Dropping in Younger Populations
Dr. Maria Wynens, Au.D.
Latest posts by Dr. Maria Wynens, Au.D. (see all)

Americans have become more aware of hearing loss and hearing health. From seniors to teens and everywhere in between, hearing loss can happen to anyone. It’s a myth that hearing loss is a problem only seniors face. Everyone faces occupational hearing hazards, and the strain of daily noise. Notoriously loud leisure activities like rock concerts or sports events also contributes to hearing loss. For young adults, a recent study offers some good news. Rates of hearing loss among younger generations might be back under control!

Who’s at Risk of Hearing Loss?

Everyone is at risk of losing their hearing. Children and teens who listen to music with earbuds and headphones are blasting dangerously loud sounds right into the delicate structures of the inner ear. Young adults who go out to noisy bars, or commute to work on the subway experience daily hearing hazards. And of course, those who work in excessively loud work environments for many hours a day are in danger of hearing loss. This includes manufacturers, construction workers, farmers, musicians, athletes, and law enforcement, just to name a few. Seniors risk hearing loss from natural aging processes as the cells in the ear age, and a lifetime of noise begins to chip away at hearing health.

Changing Trends, the Good News for Hearing

Despite all the hearing hazards out there these days, rates of hearing loss among younger generations seems to be dropping! A recent study published by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders tested rates of hearing loss among adults in the U.S., and the results were encouraging. In the late 1990s, around 16% of Americans had hearing loss. In the early 2010s though, this number was down to 14%! They found that hearing loss among adults aged 20 to 69 is actually declining. Hearing loss is starting at later ages, with those over 70 having the highest rates of hearing impairment.

What’s causing this trend? Increasing public awareness around hearing loss and hearing health is the main reason behind lower rates of hearing loss, particularly in young adults. There is an increased use of hearing protection in noisy work environments, and more people are aware of some of the daily hazards to hearing health like loud music, daily traffic noises, or crowded restaurants and bars. As more people are aware of the dangers to hearing, work to reduce noise levels, and wear hearing protection, more adults have great hearing and can look forward to many quality years without hearing loss.

What About Teens?

This study looked only at adults 20 years and older, so it didn’t provide data on teenagers. Other research has shown that up to 1 in 5 teens have noise induced hearing loss! That’s from daily hearing hazards as well as overuse of earbuds, listening at dangerous levels for too many hours every day. While rates of hearing loss are on the downtrend, this doesn’t factor in the smartphone and iPod generation, who are at high risk of hearing loss. It’s important to keep educating people of all ages about the dangers of loud noises. That concert might seem like the greatest day of your life, but is it worth a lifetime of hearing loss? Promote wearing hearing protection to concerts or other excessively loud leisure activities, and turn down the volume and restricting listening hours on your personal listening devices. Let’s keep this trend going!

The Future of Hearing

Even though it’s now more common to look after hearing health, more than 27 million American adults still suffer from hearing loss. Nearly 40% of people over 60 struggle with hearing loss, and these numbers will rise as the baby boomer generation ages. “Despite the benefits from the apparent delayed start of hearing loss, there will be an increased need for affordable hearing health care as the numbers of adults aged 70 and older continue to grow,” says Dr. James Battey, director at National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Treating hearing loss can be a frustrating process for many Americans, and we’re here to help make the transition smooth and easy. If you have hearing loss, don’t wait to seek treatment, or let this fall through the cracks. Visit Atlanta Hearing Doctor for great advice on what treatment options are best for your hearing health and lifestyle.

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