Today’s world has advanced in many ways, and with that advancement has come noise—and lots of it. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults worldwide are at risk for hearing loss. Most of this is due to exposure to high levels of recreational noise from loud entertainment venues and personal audio devices.
Dr. Etienne Krug, WHO Director for the Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention warns, “[Young people] should be aware that once you lose your hearing, it won’t come back. Taking simple preventive actions will allow people to continue to enjoy themselves without putting their hearing at risk.”
WHO compiled many studies from middle- and high-income countries and found that today, half of people aged 12-35 years are routinely exposed to unsafe levels of sound from personal audio devices, including smartphones. Just under half of this age group is additionally exposed to potentially damaging levels of sound in nightclubs, bars, and at sporting events. WHO describes unsafe levels of sound at 85 dB for 8 hours, or 100dB for just 15 minutes.
A wide range of factors can lead to hearing loss, but WHO estimates half of all instances of hearing loss, from mild to profound, are preventable. Taking simple precautions, such as limiting the volume in personal headphones, wearing ear plugs to a loud venues (such as sporting events and music festivals), and limiting the time spent in those venues, can drastically limit the amount of damage your ears are exposed to. Temporary hearing loss or tinnitus that occurs after exposure to sustained loud sounds is just a warning of the damage that can occur.
People who experience hearing loss report that it leads to loneliness, isolation and frustration. By following these simple guidelines and precautions, many teenagers and young adults can stop hearing damage in its tracks, and avoid the danger of it affecting their lives.