By Tara Guastella
Nearly 50 million Americans experience some degree of hearing loss and tinnitus. However, on average a person will have trouble hearing for 7 to 10 years before seeing a hearing health professional.
Why do we wait so long to have a hearing test? If you had trouble with your vision, would you wait to see an eye doctor? Probably not. Many feel that hearing loss is something that only affects the elderly, but nowadays a greater number of young adults are being afflicted by hearing loss (and tinnitus). One in 5 teenagers has a hearing loss and that number will likely increase over the next two decades.
The biggest likely reason for the increase among young adults is exposure to loud sounds. Approximately 26 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have high frequency hearing loss due to exposure to loud noises at work or in leisure activities.
A recent study in New York City found that young adults (ages 18 to 44) who routinely listen to loud music with headphones (defined as loud use five to seven days per week for four or more hours per day) were also more likely to have hearing loss and tinnitus. Hearing loss among adolescents has also increased more than 30 percent between 1988 and 2006. The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recommends reducing the volume, limiting your listening time, and taking regular breaks when using headphones. Never listen at maximum volume.
In honor of National Audiology Awareness Month & National Protect Your Hearing Month this October, schedule an appointment with an audiologist or otolaryngologist (ENT) to have your (or a family member’s) hearing checked. You can find a hearing healthcare provider in your area here. By having a hearing test, you’re taking the first step toward making hearing health a priority and ensuring you don’t miss wonderful sounds, such as hearing your family’s voices.
The American Academy of Audiology also provides a number of resources for you to raise awareness of protecting your hearing this month. From facts sheets on different forms of hearing loss to web tools to posters, you can find a variety of resources here. Take action in your community and spread the word about the importance of hearing healthcare today.
Please share with us how you will be protecting your hearing this month in the comments below.
1 Hearing Problems and Heaphone Use in New York City; NYC Vital Signs, NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, July 2013, Volume 12, No. 2: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/survey/survey-2013noise.pdf