Most people have heard the expression, “If it’s too loud, you’re too old.” The implication is clear: young people like their music loud, and hearing loss is a problem for only the elderly. However, it is exactly this mindset that is causing the loss of hearing to affect people at increasingly younger ages.
In today’s world, the volume at a rock concert is usually between 90 and 110 decibels, a range which the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) categorizes as “extremely loud.” Even listening to music on headphones can reach 100 decibels or more, and what young person today doesn’t spend some part of the day with headphones jammed in their ears? Young music-lovers may not realize that prolonged exposure to such loud sounds can cause permanent damage to the hair cells inside the ear, resulting in hearing loss over time. In our noisy modern world, we are seeing more and more people being diagnosed with hearing loss in their 50’s, 40’s, and younger. Even children are reaping the costs more than ever before.
The good news is that hearing loss from noise exposure can be prevented. Experts recommend reducing the risk of damage by wearing foam earplugs in noisy situations such as riding motorcycles, using power tools, or going hunting, as well as opting to listen to music with over-the-ear headphones. It is also a good idea to follow the “60-60 rule,” turning a device’s volume up to no more than 60% of the maximum decibels and listening for no longer than 60 minutes.
Ultimately, on top of taking these steps to reduce damage, it is also important to reduce the stigma that hearing loss is only for old people. Younger generations should be encouraged to always seek professional treatment for suspected hearing loss.