Hearing Loss – affecting more people as our lives get noisier.

PA speakers
Speakers (Photo credit: sebilden)

Every week I see more and more articles on how younger people are losing their hearing. They’re not paying attention to the warnings:

“Although hearing problems are normally associated with aging, our youth will need hearing aids earlier in life if they continue to damage their hearing by listening to music at dangerous volumes.”

Research by Australian Hearing’s National Acoustic Laboratories shows it is not just mobile devices that have the potential to cause damage to hearing. Attending nightclubs, pubs and live concerts, can also impact on the hearing of young Australians.

And do you know what causes hearing loss?

The sad truth is that many of us are responsible for our own hearing loss,” writes Katherine Bouton in her new book, “Shouting Won’t Help: Why I — and 50 Million Other Americans — Can’t Hear You.” The cause, she explains, is “the noise we blithely subject ourselves to day after day.”

We are born with a fixed number of hair cells; once they are dead, they cannot be replaced, and auditory sensitivity is permanently lost. Usually, sensitivity to high-frequency sounds is first to go, followed by an inability to hear the frequencies of speech.

Furthermore, the effects of noise exposure are cumulative, as Robert V. Harrison, an auditory specialist at the University of Toronto, noted recently in The International Journal of Pediatrics. Although we start out with a redundancy of hair cells, with repeated noisy insults, enough are destroyed to impair hearing. Thus, damage to hair cells incurred early in life, as has happened to many rock musicians and rock concert aficionados, can show up in midlife as difficulty understanding speech.

Behind the ear aid
Behind the ear hearing aid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And then you get articles like saying that people are embracing hearing aids:

But Saad said a new market has opened up among younger adults who are increasingly likely to embrace hearing aids as a technological tool like an iPod or pedometer.

“The stigma is gone,” Saad said. “Because of young people’s perceptions of technology, they are more inclined to get hearing health care. They’re not afraid of it.”

Okay – it’s good that there’s less of a stigma surrounding it, but hearing aids are not the solution – we need to preserve our hearing!


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