October is Protect Your Hearing Month

October is Protect Your Hearing Month

In hearing health, hearing loss by Laurie Duffy, M.S.

National Audiology Awareness Month and Protect Your Hearing Month both fall in October. With over 36 million people in the United States suffering from hearing loss, more awareness is critical. Hearing loss is becoming increasingly common among younger generations such as millennials, making it more critical than ever to understand the origins, symptoms, and long-term repercussions of hearing loss, as well as how to protect your hearing.

Millennials at risk of hearing loss

The revolution in portable devices has come with a range of unhealthy listening practices and not enough education about the dangers of hearing loss. As millennials age, some studies have demonstrated a notable spike in their hearing loss. 

The rise of smartphones and developments in personal audio technology has made a significant impact on how people listen to music. Alongside this technology came its personalized delivery through headphones and earbuds. Many young people grew up with access to some form of personal music player and the incorrect assumption that the volume limits of their headphones represented what a safe sound level for human hearing was. On the contrary, the maximum volume levels on these devices often far exceeded the threshold of hazardous noise.

Also, to the detriment of the millennial generation, the private nature of listening through earbuds means that it is hard for others to detect when the volume is turned up too high. Parents, teachers, and other adults may likely have been left in the dark when bad listening habits were established.

Too loud, for too long

While filling one’s life with music can lift mood, our ears need a rest from the work they do. Listening, especially at harmful volumes, requires that we give our ears downtime to recuperate. Constant listening to the audio, primarily through headphones, places stress on our auditory system.

Poor education around issues of hearing health has also let other misinformation take hold. Specifically, many millennials conflate the audio volume with their depth of experience. Video game fans will often max out the volume limit on a game in the hopes of creating a more “immersive” environment. Concert goers often attend live shows without hearing protection because the full blast of amplified sound feels more in the moment. 

Conversely, protecting one’s hearing and listening to moderate volumes makes sure that hearing your favorite sounds and songs will be a lifelong activity. Not only can you detect more detail and nuance in music played at a hearing-safe volume, but it is also easier to pay attention to your surroundings. 

Millennials have the added hardship of living in a world that is by and large noisier than generations past. Technology, transportation, and development have led to widespread noise pollution. Growing loudness is creating hearing issues worldwide and across generations. 

Noise-induced hearing loss

The most common – and the most preventable – type of permanent hearing loss is noise-related hearing loss. Noise-related hearing loss occurs when hair cells in our inner ear are damaged. These sensory cells cannot repair or regenerate themselves, making any injury incur a permanent injury. When loud noise damages these cells, we lose hearing sensors we cannot regain.

In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that over 8 million Americans between 20 and 29 were experiencing hearing loss. The CDC has also cautioned about a looming epidemic of hearing loss that may be imminent as millennials worldwide grow older and more permanent noise-related hearing damage occurs. Educating young adults and future generations about healthy listening habits is fundamental to reducing the statistics.

Your Hearing Health

It’s never too early to start getting annual hearing tests, especially if you are at risk for hearing loss. Addressing hearing loss early makes adapting to treatment easier, promotes better health, and curtails further hearing issues. When it comes to thorough hearing exams and advanced analysis, it’s time to turn to us. We offer services from treating existing hearing loss to custom strategies for preventing hearing damage. Want to know more? Set up an appointment today!