Hearing loss in young adults

Think hearing loss is just about getting old?  

Unfortunately, loss of hearing can actually occur at any age and, as hearing loss in young adults statistics show, it’s very common. According to the World Health Organisation around 466 million people worldwide have hearing loss.

Meanwhile, one in six Australians currently suffer from hearing loss - and while most of that is a result of genetics or getting older, one third of people actually start experiencing it due to preventable means. Of the 3.55 million Australians living with hearing loss, according to a 2005 study, nearly half were aged between 16-64.

And the effects of hearing loss really can’t be underestimated. 

For young people in their teens or heading into their early 20s, hearing loss can have an impact on confidence, educational learning or limit career options, as they may be missing out on understanding conversations or may be less likely to contribute to group discussions.

It’s important to be aware of the signs and causes of hearing loss - because it can have an ongoing impact on your life. There are however ways to limit or prevent hearing loss, and there’s support in place for those suffering from the condition.

If any of this has raised any concerns for you - or a loved one - please read on.

What are the main causes of hearing loss in young people?

It’s a noisy world. While we work and play in urban environments dominated by perpetual hustle and bustle, the World Health Organisation has determined that this excess sound can have a major impact on our well-being, including hearing.

But not only are we living in cities dominated by noise pollution - we’re also plugging into loud music via earbuds and high-decibel live gigs. A Journal of Pediatrics report has noted that 12.5% of kids between the ages of 6 and 19 have hearing loss thanks to music played simply too loudly.

It means that excessive noise is having a far bigger impact than unpreventable factors such as genetics, injuries or birth complications. And, unfortunately, it’s only getting worse: streaming music on a phone gives you far longer listening times (and more music at your disposal) than, say, the old Walkmans. We’re also feeling the effects of doing things like cranking up low-quality earbuds.

The good news is there are ways to be mindful and prevent progressive hearing loss in young adults. Like so much in life, it involves doing things in moderation:

  • Check your volume: if other people can hear your tunes through your headphones, not only are you annoying them, but it’s also hurting your ears!
  • Take breaks in your party-of-one listening sessions - usually after an hour or so
  • Opt for high-quality wrap-around headphones
  • Always wear earplugs at gigs!

How to deal with hearing loss at a young age

It’s not always easy to identify hearing loss - in fact, others may well notice before you do. Changes can  happen gradually over time and we often learn to accommodate them. 

Nevertheless, be on the lookout for typical signs including:

  • You find yourself asking people to repeat themselves
  • Other people start asking you to turn things down, like the TV and your music
  • Friends and family might observe you’re not hearing very well

Sometimes it can be easier for others to observe changing behavioral patterns in their friends and loved ones as a sign of hearing loss:

  • You see they have a tough time following conversations, especially if two or more people are involved. In some cases, hearing loss can be associated with misunderstanding or mishearing what others are saying - causing confusion for that person
  • You see that they seem extra tired or fatigued - having spent all day straining to hear conversations
  • You find they no longer enjoy going out to places that can be noisy, such as restaurants
  • You see they’re starting to find it difficult to hear women’s and children’s voices

If others have commented on your hearing or you have noticed a change, we’re here to help.  The first step is to book a free hearing test as at National Hearing Care we are here to help determine which type of hearing loss you have, how it was caused and what can be done to help. 

From there, we can work out whether you need a hearing aid and if that’s a suitable option for you.

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