Almost every day, our patients speak of the regret they feel in not taking better care of their hearing when they were younger because only now do they know just how easily hearing can be permanently damaged.
Sometimes, we think our ears can just get used to loud noise, but they can’t. And if loud noises don’t bother you as much as they used to, you’ve probably already lost some of your hearing.
But it’s not too late for your younger loved ones!
Below, I’ve shared some valuable tips you can share with them to help protect their hearing and avoid hearing problems that Consumer Reports says “have been linked to poor school performance, reduced social engagement and language development, and low self-esteem.”
More Young People With A Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Noise-induced hearing loss can happen with just one loud noise or over a longer period of time. Hearing-damaging activities include:
- Working in loud-noise environments – construction, entertainment, military, industrial, airports
- Attending events – concerts, sporting events, nightclubs, firework displays
- Leisure activities – hunting, shooting, dance clubs
- Listening to music – with headphones or earbuds
The last activity — listening to music — is the primary cause of hearing loss in young people now. A recent study of 18 to 27 years olds’ hearing found their hearing loss to be the same as that of musicians. And 53 percent of US adults under the age of 70 have a noise-induced hearing loss despite not working in noisy environments.
Listening to music (or anything) too loudly puts around 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults at risk for noise-induced hearing loss, according to the World Health Organization. This results in avoidable hearing loss later in life.
We hate to see so many young people in our office with a hearing loss that could have been avoided!
Irrevocable Hearing Loss In Loud Settings
When sounds reach the inner ear, the vibrations move the fragile cilia in there enough to where they then send sound messages to the brain. In a loud setting, the sound vibrations can actually damage the cilia. In many cases, the affected cilia can recover within 24 hours, but when they are damaged repeatedly, the damage becomes irreparable.
Hearing Protection For Teens And Young Adults
So, what can you do to help your loved ones avoid a hearing loss?
1. Keep the volume low. The sound quality on today’s headphones makes listening to your favorite songs a pleasure, but it also makes it easy to go overboard with the volume.
Some earbud apps and headphones have a volume protection setting you can lock in for children.
2. Protect your ears when loud noises are unavoidable. Sometimes, you are in a position where adjusting the volume is possible (concerts, construction sites, etc.). Carrying ear protection in the form of earplugs helps extend your hearing health for much longer.
If you must shout to be heard in any setting, it means your hearing is at risk.
3. We know that exercise that gets your heart pumping is great for circulation, and good circulation is great for our ears!
4. Keep a healthy diet. This (plus exercise) is one of the best ways to avoid Type 2 diabetes.
5. Stop smoking. Smoking is a big risk factor for hearing loss and is thought to damage blood vessels in the inner ear.
6. Keep the cotton swabs out of your ears. The old adage is right: Never put anything in your ears smaller than your elbow. That said, also keeping your ears clean and dry will go a long way in keeping your ears free of infection, which helps extend your hearing health.
7. Have your hearing regularly checked. Regular hearing screenings can make a big difference in catching hearing loss early and preventing further damage. Hearing loss often develops slowly, so establishing a baseline and then returning for regular checkups can let you know as soon as there is an issue.
Custom Hearing Protection
Hearing earplugs can be customized to a young adult’s needs. For example, a radio receiver can be fitted to an earplug if it is important to hear speech, and hunters can wear electronic earplugs with special filters.
For teenagers, encourage the 80-90 rule: listen at 80 percent of the max. volume for no more than 90 minutes per day. Modelling this can be far more effective than telling them to do it.
We’re Here To Help
We share the same goals – to optimize hearing and prevent any future loss for you and your loved ones.