Scientists believe 20-somethings with hearing aids will soon become more prevalent as hearing loss is a public health issue.
When you consider extreme hearing loss, ideas of elderly people might come to mind. But all age groups have had a recent increase in hearing loss over the last few years. Increased hearing loss amongst all ages further illustrates that hearing loss isn’t an “aging issue,” but a growing crisis.
With adults 20 and up, researchers predict that hearing loss will rise by 40%. This is seen as a public health issue by the healthcare community. One in five people is, according to John Hopkins medical research, having a difficult time communicating due to severe hearing loss.
Hearing loss is increasing amongst all age groups and here is why experts think that is.
Hearing Loss Can Lead to Additional Health Problems
Serious hearing loss is a terrible thing to go through. Everyday communication becomes difficult, frustrating, and fatiguing. It can cause individuals to stop doing what they enjoy and withdraw from friends and family. If you don’t get help, it’s almost impossible to be active while going through significant hearing loss.
Those who have untreated hearing loss suffer from more than diminished hearing. They’re far more likely to experience:
- Injuries from recurring falls
- Other severe health conditions
- Cognitive decline
They also have difficulty getting their everyday needs met and are more likely to have difficulties with personal relationships.
In addition to the impact on their personal lives, individuals suffering from hearing loss might face increased:
- Healthcare expenses
- Accident rates
- Insurance costs
- Needs for public assistance
- Disability rates
These factors show that hearing loss is a significant challenge we need to fight as a society.
What’s Causing Increased Hearing Loss Across All Age Groups?
There are several factors causing the current rise in hearing loss. One factor is the increased occurrence of common conditions that can cause hearing loss, including:
- Anxiety and unmanaged stress
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
- Poor diet and a lack of consistent exercise
More people are experiencing these and related conditions at younger ages, which contributes to added hearing loss.
Increased prevalence of hearing loss also has a lot to do with lifestyle. In work and recreational areas specifically, it’s becoming more common to be exposed to loud noise. We’re being exposed to loud noises and music in more places and modern technology is getting louder. Young people who frequent the following places have the highest degree of hearing loss:
- Shooting ranges
- Bars, clubs, and concerts
Furthermore, many individuals are choosing to wear earbuds and crank their music up to dangerous volumes. And more individuals are treating pain with painkillers or taking them recreationally. Opiates, ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen will increase your chance of hearing loss particularly if used over a extended time periods.
How is Society Responding to Hearing Loss as a Health Issue?
Hearing loss is getting the attention of local, national, and world organizations. They’re doing work to prevent this upward trend by educating the public on hearing loss such as:
- Risk factors
- Treatment options
Individuals are being prompted by these organizations to:
- Know their degree of hearing loss risk
- Have their hearing checked sooner in their lives
- Use their hearing aids
Hearing loss will get worse with any delay in these actions.
Solutions are being looked for by government organizations, healthcare providers, and researchers. They’re also pursuing ways to bring hearing-loss related costs down. This will help increase accessibility to advanced hearing technologies that greatly improve lives.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is working with scientists and organizations to create comprehensive strategies. They are combining education, awareness, and health services to lower the risk of hearing loss among underserved communities.
Among their efforts, they’ve created research-based guidelines for communities, which help local leaders understand the health impacts of noise. They describe what safe noise exposure is, and work with communities to reduce noise exposure for residents. In addition, they’re furthering research on how opiate use and abuse can raise the danger of hearing loss.
What You Can do?
Hearing loss is a public health problem so stay informed. Take steps to slow the progression of your own hearing loss and share useful information with others.
If you think you might be dealing with hearing loss, get a hearing exam. Make sure you get and wear your hearing aids if you learn that you need them.
The ultimate goal is to prevent all hearing loss. When you wear your hearing aids, you help people realize they’re not alone. You’re helping your community become more aware of the difficulties of hearing loss. Policies, actions. and attitudes will then be changed by this awareness.