Hearing loss is only a problem for older adults, right? So young people are often surprised when they find out that WHO estimates that more than 1.1 billion individuals between the ages of 13 and 35 are at risk of hearing loss worldwide. 

Many young people assume that hearing loss only affects the elderly. Still, it’s is my job to help teens and young adults understand the dangers they face due to frequent and prolonged exposure to loud noise.

Recommended Noise Levels And Damaging Noise Levels

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health recommends that employees spend no more than 8 hours of work while exposed to noise levels at 85 decibels (dBA).

To put this in perspective, anyone working as a builder, in a factory, as a performer, dancer, or musician, and more, should probably be wearing ear protection daily.

Exposure to noise levels exceeding 100 dBA at sporting events, concerts, or while listening to music through earbuds is dangerous for young ears. Noise levels often exceed 110 dBA, causing a serious risk of damage if exposure lasts for 2 minutes or longer. 

Consequently, both the noise level and the duration of exposure from recreational settings contribute heavily to hearing loss in young people.

Why Is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Dangerous?

The symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss usually include a decreased capacity to hear high-pitched sounds, the development of tinnitus (hearing a ringing or buzzing sound), a reduced ability to keep up with a conversation in a noisy environment and possibly a heightened sensitivity to everyday sounds (hyperacusis). 

Noise-induced hearing loss harms how your brain processes sound, often caused by damage to the minute hair cells in the inner ear. These damaged cells and nerve endings become less capable of conducting sound signals to the brain, causing permanent hearing loss.

Noise-induced hearing loss often goes undetected at pure-tone audiometry screenings. However, this type of testing is inadequate at detecting the specific damage caused by noise exposure.

Consequently, this form of hearing loss often goes unidentified and untreated in teens and young adults, contributing to physical, mental, and emotional health issues and compromising careers and quality of life. 

Preventing And Treating Hearing Loss In Young People

Limiting exposure to noisy environments and turning down the volume at its source is the simplest solution. However, when these options are not available or possible, damage prevention, professionally designed for occupational or recreational use, provides the best solution.

Audiologists often face another issue among young people when it comes to seeking treatment for hearing loss.  Because of the stigma related to hearing aids being bulky, ugly, and used by the elderly or disabled, many young people avoid consulting with a doctor of audiology even if they experience hearing loss. 

Modern hearing aids, thanks to micro-digital technology, are small, often invisible, perform at a higher level, have a wide range of smartphone connectivity options, and even sport sort-after lifestyle features!

SLENT Hearing and Balance Center Provides Solutions

Untreated hearing loss, regardless of age, interrupts your lifestyle and can damage health, career, and quality of life. The team and I at SLENT Hearing and Balance Center provide the highest level of hearing care to individuals of all ages in Mandeville, Hammond, Slidell, and the surrounding communities. 

Our team of professionals offers hearing consultations via video conferencing and remote assistance to ensure your health and safety due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

If you or a loved one has been struggling to hear, contact us to schedule a comprehensive hearing assessment. If you require further assistance, please call us at 985-273-5795.

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Dr. JJ Martinez, AuD, FAAA

J.J. was born in Wichita, KS, and was brought up in a Marine Corps family. Following in his father’s footsteps, he joined the Marine Corps after high school and was stationed in Camp Lejeune, NC. After going to college at Southeastern Louisiana University, he went to graduate school and got his doctorate degree from Louisiana State University Health Science Center in New Orleans, LA. Soon after, he started his career in audiology and became board certified in Audiology.