A patient recently asked us ‘Aren’t hearing aids only for older people? ‘. What a fantastic question! For those of us who’ve been watching, the trend of hearing loss issues moving down the age brackets has become increasingly clear over the last decade. It’s been estimated that as much as 15 percent of people under age 65 have hearing issues.
Putting aside genetic factors in hearing loss, the main drivers of this cultural dilemma are driven by lifestyle or occupation and usually in the control of the people who end up dealing with hearing loss.
The past year of social isolation has been a double-edged sword with regards to these issues.
One of the main drivers of noise induced hearing loss in younger adults has been the use of headphones and earbuds with personal listening devices – often referred to as leisure noise – that have flooded the market in recent years. With more people staying home during lockdown, activities like gaming, listening to music, watching streaming services, and even work-from-home culture complete with video conferencing with the volume turned up has exposed many to long-term, potentially damaging sounds.
On the other hand, not spending time in crowded bars or clubs where large sound systems blast out the volume (98dB on average!) has probably saved a great deal of wear and tear for many. But with vaccinations picking up steam and restrictions beginning to be dropped, such exposure may go into overdrive soon for many.
Both scenarios are the primary culprits in hearing damage sub-senior adults. The fact is, much of contemporary life is just louder than it used to be. And for many, that will mean an accumulation of damage to the inner ear.
The best countermeasure is being careful with the volume when at home and using noise-reducing earplugs when hitting the clubs and committing to regular hearing screenings to understand how, and if, your hobbies or your job might me impacting you hearing.