One of the most common misconceptions about hearing is that hearing loss only affects seniors. Many people are afraid to admit that they’re struggling to hear, and think that it’s a sure sign of old age. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hearing loss affects nearly 40 million Americans and many of them are under the age of 60. A new Centers for Disease Control study uncovered a shocking truth: 20% of people in their 20s experience hearing loss!
Hearing Loss in Your 20s
Hearing loss is becoming increasingly common among children, teens, and young adults. A recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control found that many Americans have hearing loss, even in their 20s, and most don’t even know it. The study showed that around 20% of people in their 20s already have some amount of permanent hearing loss or tinnitus, and this hearing loss will only get worse with time. The study reports that “about 24 percent of people ages 20-69 who report having excellent hearing have measurable hearing damage.”
What’s Causing Hearing Loss in Your 20s?
While you might think that the most common cause of hearing loss in young adults is due to high levels of workplace noise, more than half of those with hearing loss in their 20s have hearing loss that’s completely unrelated to their quiet jobs. So, what’s causing hearing loss among young adults? Hearing is easily damaged by many of our daily activities, from mowing the lawn, using a leaf blower, or even sitting in noisy traffic on the way to work. “Lots of people have hearing loss as a result of too much noise,” said acting CDC director Dr. Anne Schuchat, and you might not even notice that these routines are damaging your hearing. Noise induced hearing loss is the result of over exposure to dangerously loud noises. These can be from leisure activities like attending loud concerts or sporting events, or spending the afternoon at the shooting range. Noise pollution in our cities can also lead to noise induced hearing loss, and screeching bus brakes, honking horns, and the construction site on the corner all add to the noise levels around us.
Young people also risk their hearing through unsafe listening practices. Many use earbuds or headphones to drown out annoying background sounds, and as the distracting sounds get louder, we reach for the volume controls and crank it up to unsafe levels, leading to early hearing loss or tinnitus. “The louder a sound is, and the longer you are exposed to it, the more likely it will damage your hearing,” says the CDC report.
Whatever your age, it’s important to notice the risks to your hearing health, and protect your hearing. If you work in a noisy job, be sure to wear hearing protection whenever it gets too loud, and make sure you know how to wear your hearing protection correctly. Take foam earplugs with you to leisure events such as concerts or sports games, and encourage your friends to do the same. If you have to yell to be heard by the person standing next to you, it’s too loud, and you’re all risking your hearing health.
When it comes to listening to music safely, keep in mind the 60/60 rule. It’s recommended that you limit your listening to 60 minutes at a time, then take a break to give your ears a rest. Listen at 60% of the volume, and resist the urge to blast your music, since listening to your music at full volume will send these dangerously loud sounds right into your ear canal, and damage the delicate cells of the inner ear, leading to permanent hearing loss.
Treating Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is a permanent condition, which is why it’s so important for young people to protect their hearing. For people who do experience hearing loss, treatment with quality hearing aids will give you back the ability to hear. You’ll be able to follow conversations, enjoy time with your loved ones, and hear in background noise. Call us today at My Hearing Centers to book a hearing test, and find the best treatment options for your hearing loss.