New CDC Study: 20% of People in Their 20s Experience Hearing Loss

Dr. Maria Wynens, Au.D.Hearing Loss, News

Dr. Maria Wynens, Au.D.
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A recent study shows that hearing loss is not limited to older generations. Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) find that young people are affected in various ways and not always from work-related activity. Many contributing factors that could lead to disabling hearing loss are daily activities such as yard work, listening to music, and even highway driving for extended periods.

There are many ways to prevent or slow the progression of hearing loss, including routine health care visits where discussing hearing health is a priority.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in Younger Populations

Though several factors can be attributed to hearing loss in young adults, one area of concern is ear bud headphones. Dr. Sreekant Cherukuri, an ear, nose, and throat specialist, warns that in-ear buds worn directly in the ear canal and have the potential to enhance the volume by as many as 9dB (decibels). At full volume, today’s digital music devices can produce as much sound as a live rock concert, causing hearing loss in as little as 8 minutes. This is how easily disabling hearing loss can occur. He, therefore, recommends listening to headphones for 60 minutes or less at no more than 60% volume.

Another area of concern for is environmental noise. These are noises that can lead to hearing impairment without many people even realizing it. The source can be a single loud noise or noise at lower levels over an extended period of time. Noise pollution from highways and construction one might encounter daily commuting to and from work should be taken into consideration. Over time, these sounds can irreparably damage sensory receptors called hair cells, leading to varied types of hearing loss. Simple chores in and outside of one’s home, like using a vacuum or lawn mower, can also produce sounds louder than normal. Most full-sized vacuum cleaners have a noise output of 70-80 dB, while lawn mowers have an output of 90-110 dB.

In a CDC report, with support from the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health, they concluded that an estimated 53% of adults are living with noise-induced hearing damage. This damage is shown by the distinct lack of ability to hear high-pitched sounds and appeared as early as age 20. The report also concluded that almost one in four adults ages 20-69 who reported good to excellent hearing already have some hearing loss.

The Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss

Living with a hearing impairment can affect one’s anxiety, stress level, and blood pressure. It may even extend to loved ones as they, too, become accustomed to a new way of communication. People living with untreated hearing loss often benefit from the use of various hearing devices, like hearing aids or cochlear implants, among other assistive devices. Speech therapy and sign language learning and aural therapy also exist to ease the loss of hearing

While hearing loss is permanent, there are successful treatment options, primarily the use of hearing aids.  Among younger populations, doctors in the field recommend prevention as a way to protect yourself, as most noise-induced hearing loss is preventable. The CDC suggests the following for those concerned about their hearing:

  • Avoid noisy places whenever possible.
  • Use earplugs, protective ear muffs, or noise-canceling headphones when around loud noises.
  • Keep the volume down when watching television, listening to music, and using earbuds or headphones.
  • Ask their doctor for a hearing checkup.

Education and technology can provide many of the tools needed to protect against hearing loss when utilized properly. From lowering the volume and limiting the amount of time that ear buds and headphones are used to regularly checking your hearing health, a breadth of information is available to keep your hearing safe.

Preventing Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Some instances may seem unavoidable for exposure to loud noise, but preparation can keep hearing health as a top priority. At a loud workplace, construction or otherwise, check with a supervisor to see if ear plugs are available. Also, plan to purchase ear plugs before attending loud, live functions, like concerts or sporting events.

Noise-cancelling headphones are an option, too. They not only protect against hearing damage, but also have the technology to improve hearing. They can be worn to offset the distraction of a concurrent activity. That means when listening to music, the volume doesn’t have to be raised excessively to drown out passive noise, and while enjoying a casual conversation in a louder environment, the technology filters out ambient sound. This more sophisticated technology can come in at a more premium price point, but whichever tools you use to ensure prolonged hearing health, of the many available, will be worth it.

Visit Us at Atlanta Hearing Doctor

At Atlanta Hearing Doctor, we provide comprehensive hearing health services, from hearing testing to hearing aid fittings. If you’ve experienced changes in your hearing, contact us to learn more and to schedule a consultation.