Young adults often have the mistaken notion that they will never experience hearing loss. A common misconception is that the problem is exclusive to older and elderly adults. Unfortunately, hearing loss in young adults is much more prevalent than many assume.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 14 percent of Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have some degree of hearing loss. Approximately three of every 1,000 newborns have mild to profound hearing loss, but it’s more common for early onset hearing loss to develop over the years due to other causes. This is often baffling and causes people to wonder “Why am I losing my hearing so young?” In the case of early onset deafness or hearing loss, the environment often plays a large role.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss
Noise induced hearing loss is the leading causes of hearing loss in young adults. A person with this condition has challenges hearing high-pitched sounds correctly. People with noise induced hearing loss can typically hear voices normally but struggle to articulate what the other person just said. The problem is most prevalent in loud spaces with a lot of competing background noise.
Because noise induced hearing loss is often gradual, young adults with this issue may not realize it for several years. Ringing in the ears, medically known as tinnitus. Tinnitus is a common symptom associated with hearing loss caused by repeated exposure to loud noise.
When researching what could cause hearing loss in young adults, people are often surprised to find that the position of the ear canal and inner ear contribute to problems hearing high-frequency sounds. Also known as the cochlea, the inner ear contains hair cells and nerve endings that respond to certain pitches. Repeated exposure to loud noise eventually damages the hair cells and nerve endings. Eventually, repeated exposure makes it difficult to understand speech in noisy environments. Some of the leading causes of noise induced hearing loss include:
- Heavy traffic
- Listening to loud music through earbuds
- Noisy restaurants and bars
- Rock concerts
- Sporting events
This problem is so significant that 17 percent of young people between 12 and 19 have some degree of noise induced hearing loss. They often don’t realize the issue is permanent and fail to seek help as soon as they should. An injury to the ears or head or certain diseases can also cause temporary or permanent hearing damage in young people.
How Young Adults Can Protect Their Hearing
The first step in young people protecting their hearing is getting rid of the notion that hearing loss can’t happen to them. Once they accept early onset hearing loss as a possibility, they’re much more likely to actively take steps to prevent it. These suggestions should help:
- Look for low noise ratings on devices or appliances before buying them.
- Ask the manager at restaurants, movie theaters, and other places young people frequent to turn down the volume if it’s too loud.
- Avoid loud noise whenever possible. The environment is too loud anytime a person must shout for others to hear him or her above the noise.
- Use hearing protection such as earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones when it’s not possible to avoid a loud environment. Each can reduce the intensity of incoming sound by up to 30 decibels.
- Clean ears frequently to remove earwax that can build up and interfere with hearing. Avoid using a Q-tip when cleaning the ears. They can push wax further into the ear canal rather than removing it. The best way to clean ears is to use an irrigation kit that softens ear wax to allow for easy removal with a damp cloth. These kits are typically available at pharmacies or chemists. However, anyone who continues to struggle with earwax buildup after using one should visit a doctor.
- Stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke as much as possible since inhaling tobacco can damage hair cells and nerve endings to cause hearing loss.
- Young people shouldn’t hesitate to schedule a hearing test with an audiologist if they have a family history of early hearing loss, deal with frequent loud noise exposure, hear ringing in the ears, or struggle to hear the right words in conversations.
- Make sure that prescription and over-the-counter medications don’t list hearing loss as a possible side effect.
How IQbuds² MAX Help with Early Onset Hearing Loss
IQbuds² MAX that allows users to block out distracting background noise during conversation for a better social experience. The earbuds accomplish this feat through a combination of Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), directional hearing control (Focus), and Speech in Noise Control (SINC) technology.
Young adults often turn up the volume on their headphones to drown out irritating environmental noise, not realizing they are further damaging their hearing in the process. With the ANC technology enabled, they can stream music at a much lower volume and still hear it perfectly.
Young adults can even test their own hearing with Ear ID the IQbuds App or on the Nuheara website using our free hear-in-noise test. The Ear ID process takes just 10 minutes and is extremely discrete. After receiving the results, the earbuds auto-calibrate to the user’s custom hearing profile. That means the earbuds amplify and enhance sounds in response to the user’s unique hearing needs.
Should hearing improve or decline over time, users can re-take the hearing test to reset the profile. Nuheara was the first company of its kind to offer customers the opportunity to incorporate this self-assessment. That and the subsequent auto-calibration technology within a pair of wireless earbuds is truly a world-first.
IQbuds² MAX even sync with Siri and other voice-activated digital personal assistants. As the greatest users of communications technology, young adults don’t have to miss anything while on the go. The earbuds fit comfortably inside the ear canal but are larger than the standard in-the-ear hearing aids. Even so, others may not know they’re relying on innovative hearing technology to keep up with conversation.
This is great news for young adults who want to keep their medical issues to themselves. It’s also great news for the hearing health industry and future generations. Ultimately, greater awareness of hearing challenges at an earlier age will product better outcomes for all involved.