Hearing loss is currently a public health issue and scientists think that it will become much more common for individuals in their 20’s to be wearing hearing aids.
When you think of severe hearing loss, thoughts of elderly people might come to mind. But all age groups have seen a recent rise in hearing loss over the past few years. Increased hearing loss among all ages further demonstrates that hearing loss isn’t an “aging problem,” but a growing epidemic.
Researchers predict that in the next 40 years, hearing loss cases will double in adults 20 and older. This is seen as a public health concern by the healthcare community. According to John Hopkins medical researchers, one in five people is already dealing with hearing loss so extreme it makes communication difficult.
Hearing loss is increasing amongst all age groups and here is why researchers think that is.
Hearing Loss Can Lead to Added Health Concerns
Profound hearing loss is a horrible thing to go through. Everyday communication becomes challenging, frustrating, and exhausting. It can cause people to stop doing what they love and withdraw from friends and family. If you don’t get help, it’s virtually impossible to be active while enduring significant hearing loss.
It’s not only diminished hearing that people with untreated hearing loss are afflicted by. They’re also more likely to develop the following
- Injuries from repeated falls
- Cognitive decline
- Other severe health conditions
They also have difficulty getting their everyday needs met and are more likely to have problems with personal relationships.
Along with the impact on their personal lives, people experiencing hearing loss might face increased:
- Healthcare expenses
- Insurance costs
- Accident rates
- Needs for public assistance
- Disability rates
We need to fight hearing loss as a society because as these factors demonstrate, hearing loss is a significant obstacle.
What’s Contributing to Increased Hearing Loss Across All Ages?
There are several factors contributing to the present increase in hearing loss. One factor is the increased prevalence of common conditions that can cause hearing loss, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure
- Anxiety and unmanaged stress
- Poor diet and a lack of regular exercise
These conditions and other related conditions are contributing to increased hearing loss because they’re happening to people at earlier ages.
Increased prevalence of hearing loss also has a lot to do with lifestyle. Exposure to loud noises is more prevalent, especially in work environments and recreational areas. We’re being exposed to loud noises and music in more places and modern technology is getting louder. It’s frequently the younger people who have the highest amount of noise exposure in:
- Bars, clubs, and concerts
- Shooting ranges
Furthermore, many people are choosing to wear earbuds and turn their music up to dangerous volumes. And a larger number of individuals are now using painkillers, either to treat chronic pain or recreationally. Long-term, frequent use of opiates, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin have also been linked to a higher danger of hearing loss.
How is Society Responding to Hearing Loss as a Health Crisis?
Local, national, and world organizations have taken notice. They’re trying to prevent this upward trend by educating the public on hearing loss such as:
- Risk factors
- Treatment possibilities
Individuals are being urged by these organizations to:
- Wear their hearing aids
- Identify their level of hearing loss risk
- Get their hearing tested sooner in their lives
Hearing loss will get worse with any delay in these actions.
Scientists, healthcare providers, and government organizations are looking for solutions. They’re also seeking ways to bring hearing-loss associated costs down. This will help improve accessibility to advanced hearing technologies that greatly improve lives.
Broad strategies are being developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other organizations as well as scientists. Reducing the risk of hearing loss among underserved communities is being addressed with health services, education, and awareness.
Among their contributions, they’ve created research-based guidelines for communities, which help local leaders understand the health affects of noise. They explain what safe noise exposure is, and help communities reduce noise exposure for residents. Additionally, they’re furthering research on how opiate use and abuse can raise the risk of hearing loss.
Can You do Anything?
Hearing loss is a public health problem so remain informed. Share helpful information with other people and take action to slow the development of your own hearing loss.
If you think you may be dealing with hearing loss, have your hearing examined. Make sure you get and use your hearing aids if you find that you need them.
Stopping hearing loss is the ultimate goal. You’re helping others who have hearing loss understand that they’re not alone when you wear your hearing aids. You’re helping your community become more aware of the challenges of hearing loss. This awareness has the power to transform attitudes, policies, and actions.