Hearing loss is often associated with old age. While it’s true that the condition becomes more common the older we get, young adults can experience hearing loss as well. Oftentimes, hearing loss in younger people is associated with exposure to loud noise.
Noise Exposure Causing Hearing Loss in Young Adults
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) studied rates of noise-induced hearing loss in adults. While older adults had higher rates of hearing loss than younger adults, researchers found that nearly 20% of people between the ages of 20 and 29 had some form of noise-induced hearing loss.
Why Does Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Happen
Loud noise can cause hearing loss because it damages the hair cells in your inner ear. These cells help to transmit sound to your brain, and once damaged, cannot be replaced or repaired. Once enough cells are damaged, you can start to experience noise-induced hearing loss.
How Loud Is Too Loud for Your Ears
You might assume that only extremely loud noises, like gunfire or an explosion, can be damaging to your hearing. However, any prolonged exposure to noise 85 decibels (dB) or louder has the potential to cause noise-induced hearing loss.
Many activities that young adults engage in commonly meet or exceed that threshold, including:
- Sporting events
- Playing in a band or listening to live music at Oddity Bar or other local venues
- Listening to music loudly on your headphones
- Riding motorcycles, ATVs or snowmobiles
- Working in loud environments
Can You Prevent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
The good thing about noise-induced hearing loss is that you can modify your behaviors to easily lower your risk of developing it.
Whenever you can, limit your exposure to loud noise. If you’re going to be attending an event that you know is loud, make sure to bring hearing protection devices like earplugs, earmuffs or noise-canceling headphones.
Experiencing ear pain, tinnitus or other problems when at a concert or other event is a sign to move further away from the noise to give your ears a break.
If you are listening to music or other media on your headphones, aim to never listen louder than 60% of their maximum volume. Opt for over-the-ear headphones as opposed to earbuds, as they provide a better listening experience at lower volumes.
When To See a Hearing Specialist
If you are experiencing signs of noise-induced hearing loss, such as struggling to follow conversations or experiencing a persistent ringing in your ears, schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist. They can examine your ears and give you a hearing test to determine if any hearing loss has occurred and to what degree.
Permanent hearing loss cannot be cured, but treatment options like hearing aids can greatly improve your listening experience and help prevent other health risks that are associated with untreated hearing loss.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call Wilmington Audiology Services today.