Hearing loss – not exclusively for the old

When someone says hearing loss, old people spring to mind. After all, everyone goes a ‘bit deaf’ when they are old and have to use a hearing aid. Although this is true that hearing impairment is common with ageing, the number of young adults suffering from some form of hearing loss or damage is increasing. According to the World Health Organisation, over 1 billion young adults are at risk of permanent, avoidable hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices. The key to this statement is avoidable. There are a number of causes, other than age, which can lead to hearing loss which we are going to highlight in this article, along with what steps can be taken to prevent it.

To help illustrate some of said causes, we have used some celebrity cases. After all, it’s important to remember hearing loss can affect anyone, at any age!

Listening to loud music

We’ve all done it – cranked up the volume. Maybe to drown out other noise; as a teenager in your room to be rebellious; at a house party to create a good vibe. Whatever the reason, as soon as the audio volume is turned up over 85 decibels (dB), it is no longer safe. To put it into context, listening to music at full volume with your headphones is around 103dB, and after only 7.5 minutes listening at this volume you are damaging your ears. Check out the handy infographic at the bottom of this post to give you an idea how loud different noises are.

Artist Will.i.am has lived for years with tinnitus, which is a symptom of ear damage, and causes a constant beep or ringing in the ear. He blames years of noisy music. After testing his ears, Will.i.am’s doctor told him that his hearing is more like that of someone a lot older.

Will.i.am suffers with Tinnitus & Hearing Loss Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

Another celeb example is Actress Whoopi Goldberg who wears two hearing aids, and says it is because of listening to loud music. In 2015 she said “Stop it in its tracks because not being able to hear is a bit of a bitch. I can tell you that from experience”.

Sound advice Whoopi – turn the volume down and protect your ears! 

There are now many versions of noise-cancelling earphones and devices on the market which are designed to isolate the music, so you do not need to bump up the volume. Using a SnugsPro custom fit tip on your earphones also allows you to do this through passive noise isolation – you can read more here

Not protecting your ears at festivals/live music events

Music festivals are noisy places to be, which will contribute to artists such as Will.i.am losing their hearing. Being on-stage, or at the front of the crowd, exposes your ears to 112dB…after a mere minute you are damaging your ears, barely a third of a song! 

Coldplay’s lead singer Chris Martin said he started noticing hearing loss at age 25, as well as tinnitus. “There’s no doubt it’s been caused by years of being on stage and subjected to very loud decibels of music,” he’s said. 

Roger Daltrey from The Who warned a Las Vegas audience “all you rock ’n’ roll fans” to “take your f—ing earplugs to the gigs. If only we had known when we were young.” He says he is now very, very deaf. 

Roger Daltrey – The Who advises people to wear earplugs at gigs. Photo Credit: Davidwbaker

Awareness of hearing loss in this industry and the consequences of not protecting your ears has certainly grown, but there is a long way to go. So, if you are a regular festival goer, work in the industry or perform on-stage, make sure you wear earplugs. 

You can read more on SnugsShield custom fit music plugs here. And don’t worry, sounds and your festival experience won’t be affected by using ear protection due to the specialised attenuated filters.

Repeat water exposure

Repeat ear infections can cause hearing loss. These can happen due to water getting into your ears. It is quite common to have mild hearing loss when you have an ear infection, but it tends to come back once the infection has cleared up. Ear infections that happen again and again can cause permanent damage to the eardrum or other middle ear structures, with permanent hearing loss as a result. 

Actor Robert Redford performed his own stunts while filming the 2013 movie All Is Lost. Playing a solo sailor stranded in the Indian Ocean, he was submerged in a massive water tank day after day and pelted with water from an off-camera hose. This led to a severe ear infection and as a result permanently lost 60 percent of his hearing in his left ear.

Although this can be seen as a severe case – after all, it’s not a stunt that one would  perform every day at home – if you swim or do watersports regularly, it’s important to use swim plugs to prevent ear infections.

Using SnugsAqua custom fit swim plugs will ensure your ears stay dry when in the water, and help prevent ear infections

You can read more on SnugsAqua custom fit swim plugs here.

Machines and Appliances

Using household appliances such as a food mixer form part of daily life and you do not tend to consider it as ‘risky’ to one’s ears. However, being in an environment with machines and appliances on the go all day can be damaging to your ears. For instance, a hand drill is between 90 and 94dB, above the safe exposure threshold. If you’re a builder, decorating your home, baking all day and using machines and appliances, you need to be aware of how loud they are and protect your ears accordingly.  

Kitchen appliances can be loud. Ensure you know how loud your environment is and wear ear protection accordingly

Celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli was diagnosed with severe hearing loss at age 52, and now uses a hearing aid. He said decades spent in noisy kitchens worsened the problem.

The solution – be aware of your environment and how noisy different machines and appliances are, and use ear protection when necessary.

You can explore our range of SnugsShield hearing protection here.

So, to summarise, steps can be taken to avoid getting hearing loss as an early age. In an ever-increasing noisy world, it is important to take measures to protect our ears. At Snugs, we believe in prevention, not cure – particularly as when it comes to our ears, as there is no cure! 

We will finish up with a few very simple things/actions which we can take:

1. Time to Adjust the Volume

Today, for many earbuds are an essential part of young people’s lives. Simply turning the volume down for music or gaming will help significantly.

2. The Signs

Help your friends by paying attention to the early symptoms of hearing loss.This can help you or your friends maintain healthy hearing for future decades. Catching the signs early will reduce the amount of potential hearing loss. About 50% of people aged 15-25 show signs of hearing loss with a range of signs from buzzing to physical ear pain to ringing noises. Remember to ask your friends if they are experiencing any of these symptoms regularly. The increase in noise induced hearing loss is dramatic and reports are sadly all too frequent for younger generations.

3. The Equipment

Earplugs will assist greatly in prolonging the hearing of today’s younger generations. High-volume noise is just a fact of everyday life – from large gatherings of people to running high-decibel equipment to loud events at concert venues or sporting arenas. Using hearing protection will prevent those common place incidents from damaging the precious sense of listening. Let’s protect the ears of everyone, including our children

Invest in the right equipment – SnugShield Custom Fit Hearing Protection

4. Easy Testing

Creating the right regime to look after your hearing is always a good idea. Today’s technology, including mobile apps enable you to test your hearing regularly, as well as how loud your environment is. When you’re next on The Underground, test to see how loud it is…There is always the option of visiting your local audiologist too to keep a track of your hearing

It’s important to know how loud your environment is, and when you need to take action