The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) has posted an important article on hearing loss and young people: Millennials, the Deaf Generation? The article states that a major cause of hearing injury to young people are music players, noting that the WHO “found that almost half of those ages 12 to 35 listen to their music players at unsafe volumes, while around 40 percent expose themselves to very loud events such as concerts.” Among other things, the article suggests that using over the ear headphones over earbuds could help reduce the risk, especially when coupled with keeping the player’s volume at 60% of its range and listening to music for no more than 60 minutes at a time.
The concern about hearing loss in young people is also addressed by Shari Eberts, a hearing health advocate in her piece, “A Silent Epidemic. Teen and Young Adult Hearing Loss.” Ms. Eberts writes that “[a] research study published in The Journal of American Medical Association in 2010 found that 1 in 5 teens had some type of hearing loss. This was significantly above the 1 in 7 teens with hearing loss measured 10 years earlier.” She agrees that the use of earbuds is a significant cause for the alarming increase in hearing loss, but she adds that “the increased volume levels at restaurants, bars, sporting events, and other venues are also likely to blame.” As someone who has genetic hearing loss Ms. Eberts knows firsthand about the frustration and sadness young people with hearing loss will suffer, noting that such suffering is avoidable since noise induced hearing loss is 100% preventable. As in the ASCH article, Ms. Ebert recommends steps people can take to avoid hearing injury in the first instance.
This silent epidemic of hearing loss is not going to be silent for much longer. One hopes that the increased attention on hearing loss among the young will motivate government, business, and individuals to work together to prevent the unnecessary deafening of an entire generation.