When most people take the time to consider the loss of hearing, they would usually deem it more of an age related issue. However, there are a variety of ways for someone to lose their hearing that does not relate to your age. There are plenty of people who have lost their hearing at a young age due to various reasons. Some were even born without the capability to hear anything.
Youths these days often have the mistaken belief that they will never experience the loss of hearing. Unfortunately for them, hearing loss in young adults is far more prevalent than most would assume. Think about some of the popular pastimes young people these days like to enjoy. From going to concerts to hearing music loudly through a pair of headphones, there are all sorts of ways for someone young to lose their hearing.
Every one of these situations has the potential to damage their ears and can lead to a case of hearing loss after a while. There are billions of young people worldwide who are at risk of noise-induced hearing loss. The issue is so severe that the World Health Organization believes that by 2050, more than 2.5 billion are projected to have some form of hearing loss.
The loss of hearing can be even more impactful for young people due to the way it can severely impact their development over the years. Fortunately, there are ways for these youths to prevent the chance of losing their hearing or causing enough damage that could impact them harshly as they get older.
Let’s go into detail on how hearing loss occurs within a younger demographic and how to prevent and better manage it.
Hearing Loss with Youth
When it comes to a child’s ear experiencing hearing loss, the capability to detect sound is reduced. Hearing loss can impact either one or both ears and ranges from mild to profound hearing loss. Even mild cases of hearing loss can interfere with a child’s speech and language development.
According to recent studies, 2-3 in every 1,000 children are born with hearing loss. By the age of 12, around 13% of children have already acquired some form of hearing loss. There are several ways they could have acquired hearing loss, such as illness, trauma, exposure to loud noises, or particular medical treatments.
These hearing losses have the potential to be either a temporary or permanent issue. It may be possible to restore some of the child’s hearing through surgery or medication. However, it all depends on the type and cause behind their hearing loss. The ones with permanent hearing loss have a chance to hear some sounds with the assistance of technologies, such as cochlear implants and hearing aids. Intervening beforehand can hold a significant role in assisting young children with developing language and communication skills.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Noise-induced hearing loss is a leading cause of hearing long among youths. A person who manages to acquire this condition will most likely have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds correctly. Individuals with noise-induced hearing loss can usually hear voices at normal levels, but struggle to articulate what they heard from the other person. The issue is far more prevalent in loud areas with a spectrum of sounds and clashing background noises, like restaurants and bars.
Since noise-induced hearing loss is known for being a gradual process, most youths with these issues will not realize they have a problem for several years. One common sign would be a ringing in the ears, which is medically known as tinnitus. Tinnitus is a common symptom that is associated with the loss of hearing caused by repeated or extended exposure to loud sounds.
When someone looks into the reason why youths these days are losing their hearing, they notice that the position of the ear canal and inner ear contributes to problems with high-frequency sounds. The cochlea is the inner ear that holds several tiny hair cells and nerve endings that respond to particular pitches.
If these two are repeatedly exposed to loud noises, they eventually become damaged from the results. That ultimately leads to the youth having a challenging time understanding speech in noisy environments. Here are some other leading causes behind noise-induced hearing loss:
- Listening to loud music through headphones or earbuds
- Concerts and music festivals
- Densely packed social gatherings and parties
- Noisy restaurants and bars
- Heavy traffic
- Sporting events
- Doing yard work and chores
Noise-induced hearing loss is such a significant issue that 17% of youths between the ages of twelve to nineteen have some form of noise-induced hearing loss. Most of the time, these individuals are not aware that the issue can be permanent and do not attempt to seek assistance as soon as they should. Injuries to the ear or head or specific diseases are other causes of temporary or permanent hearing damage among youths.
What is it like for youths with hearing loss?
For people who lose their hearing after learning how to speak and hear, it can be challenging to adjust because hearing was an essential part of their communication and relationships.
Fortunately, there are ways to make it possible for these hard-of-hearing individuals to hear with the assistance of technology. Using these technologies can make it possible for them to attend school and participate in activities that involve listening with their peers. Technology like programmable hearing aids can allow a person to adjust them to different environments. FM systems are another option, and they come with a microphone that can be worn by a teacher, and a receiver is worn by the student. A cochlear implant is a small electronic device that helps by bestowing a sense of sound to an individual who is seriously hard of hearing or very deaf.
Many hearing-impaired youths take the time to learn how to read lips and use ASL to support their communication needs. Sign language and, in certain cases, an interpreter could be available for translating spoken language in the classroom. Some people may even be required to attend either a separate school or social classes offered within public schools.
For the youths dealing with hearing loss and considering a college to help address their needs, there are many universities in the United States that have programming to accommodate their abilities. There is even a college named Gallaudet University that is entirely dedicated to students who are dealing with hearing impairment.
When they are at home, devices like TVs usually have a closed-caption option that allows them to follow what is being said on the screen. It is possible to install a light that flashes whenever the doorbell rings. Phone calls can also have a flashing effect implemented to make them aware of the phone ringing. Or telephones with digital readout screens, known as telecommunications devices for the deaf, are often effective. Family members and friends of people who use ASL or lip reading can also help by learning to use sign language, and if the person uses lipreading, by speaking slowly while face to face.
How can you prevent hearing loss?
One of the first things that young people these days need to do when it comes to protecting their hearing is getting rid of the idea that hearing loss won’t or can’t happen to them. When they start to accept the fact that they can lose their hearing from an early age, they are more likely to take precautions to prevent the possibility of damaging their hearing.
Here are some suggestions that should help with the prevention of hearing loss.
Reducing music volume
These days it’s become increasingly popular for most youths to listen to music through their headphones or earbuds. Most of the time, they will crank up the volume to a level far higher than they should, which could cause damage to the tiny hair cells in their ears. According to surveys, around 90% of adolescents use some sort of personal music device. Nearly half of those students listen to music at volumes higher than it’s recommended.
To avoid any potential damage from occurring to your hearing, consider using noise-canceling earphones or headphones, rather than turning the volume up to mask the noises around you. Raise the volume of your music high enough to hear it well enough, but no higher than that. The volume for your music should not go higher than 60% of the maximum volume. Some devices even have settings that can be used to limit the amount of volume raised automatically.
When using earphones or headphones, make sure to only use them for an hour at most and take a break for at least five minutes every hour. Turning down the volume of your music by just a little can make enough of a difference when it comes to preventing your ears from being damaged.
Protect your ears during loud events
Most youths these days participate in events and activities that tend to be exceedingly loud. It could be anything from sporting events to parties, concerts, and so forth. Every one of these has the chance to damage their hearing. Here is something that can be done to prevent hearing loss.
Try to move away from the sources of loud noises, such as staying away from loudspeakers, or remain a good distance from a band. Take a break from the noise every 15 minutes by leaving the area or by going to a quiet location. Consider wearing some earplugs to these events. These can be purchased at local convenience stores most of the time. You could also get your hands on reusable musician’s earplugs that reduce the volume of music but do not muffle them. After every one of these activities or events, try to give your hearing around 18 hours to recover after exposure to loud noises.
Take precautions at your workplace
If you are involved in a job that produces loud noises around you, speak to your human resources department or manager. The employer is obligated to make any changes that reduce your exposure to loud noises. One of the things they should be doing is providing you with hearing protection, such as earmuffs or earplugs. If that is not the case, you could always bring in your own and let them know about it.
They should also be making sure that you are not being exposed to these loud noises for a long period of time. Make sure you always wear any hearing protection you are given by your employers.
Avoid being exposed to loud noises
One of the best possible ways to avoid noise-induced hearing loss is by staying away from loud noises as much as possible. There are several ways you could tell if a noise is loud enough to damage your ears. First of all, if you need to raise your voice to speak to someone, that is a good indicator of being in a loud environment. That also includes if you are incapable of hearing what they are saying even when they are nearby.
If your ears are hurting and you start to hear ringing or even muffled hearing afterward, then you were exposed to loud noises. Noise levels are measured in decibels (dB) which means the higher the number, the more resonant the noise. If a sound reaches over 85 decibels, it can be harmful, especially if you are exposed to it for a long time.
To get a clear picture of how loud a noise is:
- Whispering = 30 dB
- Talking = 60 dB
- Heavy traffic = 70 to 85 dB
- Motorbike = 90 dB
- Hearing music at full volume through a headset = 100 to 110 dB
- Plane take off = 120 dB
There are smartphone apps out there capable of measuring noise levels, but you will have to ensure they are calibrated appropriately to receive a quality reading.
Ask for a hearing test
Schedule a hearing test as soon as possible if you are concerned about the possibility of losing your hearing. The earlier you manage to pick up the potentiality of hearing loss, the earlier something can be done about it. You may need to consider having a regular hearing check-up if you are at higher risk of being exposed to noise-induced hearing loss. If you work in a noisy environment, such as construction sites or concerts, it should be checked out regularly.
Sound therapy has become an increasingly popular way for people to prevent the chances of losing their hearing. There are several kinds of sound therapy methods out there that could help with preventing the chances of losing your hearing. Typically they tend to maintain and strengthen a person’s hearing by stimulating the cells inside their ears. It is similar to physical therapy, except it’s concentrated on your ears and hearing. AudioCardio is among the many solutions that are capable of helping you prevent the possibility of losing your hearing.
Youths these days do not always take the possibility of losing their hearing seriously. Too many of them willingly expose themselves to incredibly loud environments on a daily basis. By making them aware of the ramification of these constant exposures to loud noises, they could prevent the chances of severely losing their hearing as they get older. Make sure to take preventative measures to keep your hearing at the most optimal level possible.