Why turn down the music? 17% of adults suffer from noise-induced hearing loss | Chroniclers

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One thing is clear and clear: People do not hear or listen to the terrible warnings about permanent damage to their hearing caused by unnecessary, but too common, exposure to excessive noise.

Noise-induced hearing loss is the second most common form of hearing loss after age-related deafness. But unlike hearing loss that comes with age, the loss we experience from noise exposure is almost always preventable.

Whether it’s the loud music blaring through headphones, the shrill cry of leaf blowers and other electrical equipment, or the many other sources of excessive noise in our daily lives, Americans of all ages submit. willingly at deafening noise levels. It is estimated that 12.5% ​​of children and adolescents aged 6 to 19 (approximately 5.2 million children) and 17% of adults aged 20 to 69 (approximately 26 million) have suffered permanent damage to our hearing from excessive and unnecessary noise exposure. .

It’s no surprise that loud sounds, whether they occur in a single explosion or over an extended period of time, can damage our hearing, affecting the structures and nerve fibers in the inner ear that respond to sound. Noise-induced hearing loss cannot be corrected medically or surgically.

Although exposure to noise can occur at work, most workplaces these days, under the control of occupational health and safety laws, provide employees with personal protection to protect their ears and prevent or mitigate damage. However, the reality is that a large part of noise-induced hearing loss is the result of home and leisure activities such as playing loud music and video games, snowmobiling, working with wood, shoot at shooting ranges. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), of the 40 million adults who suffer from noise-induced hearing loss, more than half of them report no occupational exposure to loud noise.

The World Health Organization released a special report on hearing earlier this year, estimating that more than 50% of people aged 12 to 35 use smartphones and personal audio devices at volumes that pose a risk. important for their hearing. Additionally, the report showed that nearly 40 percent of those who frequently visit entertainment venues and concerts are at a similar risk of hearing loss.

Noise-induced hearing loss can happen instantly, such as when a loud sound occurs very near your ears, or it can occur gradually. It can affect one or both ears. The louder the sound, the more it can damage sensitive structures in your inner ear, and the faster this damage can occur. If your hearing loss is progressive, you may not recognize it at first. You may have hearing loss if any of the following conditions apply to you:

• Words seem muffled or difficult to hear or understand.

• You have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds.

• You have difficulty hearing in noisy and social places, such as restaurants and family gatherings.

• You have difficulty understanding speech on the phone.

Remember that noise-induced hearing loss is preventable. Follow these basic tips:

• Decrease the volume!

• Identify all sources of loud sounds and take measures to reduce exposure.

• Wear hearing protection, such as earplugs or earmuffs.

• Request regular hearing assessments by a licensed audiologist, especially if there are concerns about potential hearing loss.

So how too strong is he? Generally, sounds of 70 decibels or less are considered safe. Anything equal to or greater than 85 decibels is more likely to damage your hearing over time. There are many downloadable phone apps and commercially available sound level meters for measuring decibel levels in your environment.

Henry Botzum, Au.D., is a licensed audiologist with Berkshire Health Systems.


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