A hearing aid has come to be closely associated in the mind of many people with the image of an elderly person. Indeed, hearing loss is most often caused by age-related changes in the body. But, in spite of this widespread opinion, hearing loss is a condition that affects people of all ages. Moreover, statistics shows that nowadays an increasing number of young people have problems with auditory perception. What are the reasons for this?
In spite of all the advantages of modern life, it presents many dangers to health. Among the main factors having bad influence on hearing we can name deteriorating state of the environment, working in hazardous conditions, improper nutrition, using ototoxic (ear damaging) medications and domestic chemicals, disregarding elementary preventive measures. A sudden hearing loss may be caused by a sharp loud sound – for example, a petard explosion. Another danger threatening our hearing is the increased noise level typical of modern urban environment and having an extremely negative influence on our health. Nowadays we do not pay much attention to the fact that our auditory organ is being exposed to background noise twenty- four hours a day. Meanwhile, loud noise excessively simulating the sensitive auditory analyzer is considered today as one of the main causes of hearing loss. We also expose our ears to extra load by spending much time in front of the TV-set and long telephone talks.
As to young people, they are especially liable to the influence of all the named above negative factors. The youth – much more than people of other ages – tend to live in accordance with the wide-known advertisement catch-phrase – “take everything from life”. Young people’s maximalism, the prevalence of the emotional over the rational – that is the motive force behind their search for new, exciting sensations. Unfortunately, health in young age is taken for granted, considered as something given once and for all. The consequences of such reckless attitude to life begin to be felt later. And if hearing begins to deteriorate, young people most often do not take it seriously, try to pay no attention.
Meanwhile, it is young people that represent one of high-risk groups for hearing loss. As doctors say, young people are more and more often affected by hearing organ conditions that were previously typical only of the elderly. According to the data provided by German association of otolaryngologists, every one out of five people aged 16 to 20 suffers from this or that disorder in the functioning of the middle ear. Many young people have hearing loss at the level of high-pitch tones perception, and sometimes – lower-pitch tones perception as well. Such changes in hearing ability are symptomatic of the early stages of hearing loss. If the problem isn’t given due attention at this stage, in older age the person may be in for even more serious hearing problems.
Doctors are particularly alarmed by the additional negative influence that affects mostly young people – excessive enthusiasm for music. The principal risk factors are the volume of music and the time of exposure. Extremely loud music is an indispensable part of the setting at discotheques, modern music concerts and nightclubs that are very popular with young people. Such noise injures the hearing organ and leads to considerable changes in the system of auditory perception. Staying near the loudspeakers during a concert may even cause an abrupt hearing loss. Musicians themselves are also affected by the harmful influence of loud music. Research shows that 70 % of musicians using amplification in their work suffer from auditory system injuries.
According to scientists, the increasing popularity of music players is one of the main reasons for the growing number of hearing loss cases among young people. The volume of such players that some young people use almost 24 hours a day often exceeds the frequency of 100 dB. (For comparison: workers occupied in noisy production have to use means of protection already if the noise comes up to 85 dB). Excessive use of such gadgets as MP3-players, iPods, cell phones featuring MP3-player function, is a very common thing. Specialists believe that continual listening to music through earphones is the reason for the terrible increase in the hearing loss rates among young people. According to the latest research, listening to music using an iPod at full volume for 5 minutes a day increases the risk of hearing loss. To avoid injuring the hearing one should restrict listening to music through earphones to 90 minutes a day at the volume of no more than 80% of the maximum level.
Hearing loss is a dangerous disease that often starts unnoticed. And it is especially dangerous if we speak about young people. In the young age, it is especially difficult to overcome the psychological barrier and admit having a hearing problem. Remember that the issue under consideration is your health! If you do not take the necessary steps, your hearing loss may aggravate and lead to irreversible damage. If you suspect that your hearing has deteriorated you should see a doctor as soon as possible. If your hearing has really become worse, you should start using a hearing aid.
Do not forget about the means of hearing protection. In noisy conditions, you can prevent damage to your hearing by using ordinary earplugs or earmoulds. If it is possible, try to stay away from the source of loud noise (for example, at a concert try not to stand near the speakers). If you listen to music for a long time, remember to make short breaks.