“Huh? What did you say? Excuse me? Could you please say that again.” Chances are you could be hearing a lot more of these phrases in the future. Ranging from a treatable inconvenience to a life changing lifelong issue, hearing loss is is a serious issue and according to research highlighted in this article on the Age UK Hearing Aids website, it is on the rise. The effects of an increase in hearing loss to a large population could have major consequences to individuals as well as society as a whole.
There are dozens of types of hearing loss and even more causes. Possible causes of hearing loss include a buildup of wax, tumors, viruses, disease, foreign objects, and countless more. Genetics can also play a major role in how and if you will experience hearing loss. Head drama can also be detrimental to hearing. While many of these are causes are not preventable, one major cause may be.
One primary cause of hearing loss is termed Noise Induced Hearing Loss. This can be caused by a one time loud noise such as an explosion or by long term exposure to loud noises, such as in a workshop. The louder the sound the shorter it will take to experience symptoms of Noise Induced Hearing Loss. Though protective gear such as safety headphones or earplugs can help with unavoidable hearing stresses such as in the workplace or attending loud events, it seems a rising trend for people to put themselves intentionally at risk.
For decades heavy metal bands have competed for the title of “loudest band in the world,” while professional sports teams brag about the audio exploits of their fanbases. While short term exposure to loud music definitely has risks, doctors seemed to be increasingly concerned about a new danger: earbud style headphones. While headphones provide an excellent listening experience they also put high volume audio as close as possible to a listener’s ears. With more people owning personal audio devices and using them for longer periods at time, there is a worry that those who will experience Noise Induced hearing loss will increase. It also is a concern that those who use headphones the most are also those least likely to get tested and diagnosed with hearing issues; these are young people. Though simply lowering the volume of headphones and limiting the amount of time using them can make their use = incredibly safer, no one seems to be listening to these warnings.
With increases in technology allowing more and more people using more and more personal audio devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets for longer periods without changing the batteries it is quite possible hearing loss will become a bigger problem in the coming years. This combined with the the booming number of senior citizens (with aging ears) could potentially lead to a never before seen amounts of hearing loss in the near future. As always you will want to consult with a health care professional if have any concerns regarding your own hearing.