One may not be surprised to learn that hearing loss is the third most common medical condition in the US, or that it effects one in three Americans over 65. However, what may come as a surprise to many is the alarming number of young adults who have hearing loss. According to new data collected by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), a staggering 20% of people in their 20’s suffer some degree of hearing loss, and most of them don’t even know it. Of the 20-somethings with some degree of hearing loss, about one-fourth of them incorrectly rated themselves as having good to excellent hearing.
Think about it. This means that one out of every five people you meet in their 20s are suffering from hearing loss – and many believe their hearing is excellent. That’s a pretty hefty statistic.
Are you one of the 20%?
Meet Zach Hubbard
Zach Hubbard is a 17-year old senior at Kamiakin High School in Kennewick, Washington. Like many teenagers in Kennewick, Zach enjoys target shooting with his friends in his free time. Zach also suffers from lifelong hearing damage caused by inadequate hearing protection during a shooting session. Zach explains that he didn’t have time to put his hearing protection on, before those around him began shooting. He states, “it really dulled my hearing, I couldn’t hear out of it for two weeks.”
Although Zach was sure he had suffered some type of hearing damage, it still came as a shock for him to learn that he had lost some of his hearing for life, and there was nothing that could bring it back.
Based on the CDC’s findings, Zach is far from alone in this journey. Dr. Aiello at Columbia Basin Hearing Center explains that although hearing loss is the number one most commonly reported workplace injury – more often than not people are losing their hearing because of the everyday noises in their lives – not while on the job. Leisure activities such as going to concerts and listening to music through ear buds are some of the most common causes of hearing loss among younger Americans.
Zach warns others of the dangers of noise induced hearing loss by saying, “make sure that you definitely have adequate hearing protection. Always over compensate because once it’s gone, it’s gone,”. (http://www.nbcrightnow.com/story/34535083/hearing-loss-on-the-rise-for-younger-generations).
Meet Anna Pulley
33-year-old Anna Pulley recently wrote a hilarious article outlining the struggles of being young and hearing impaired for the New York Times titled, “My Ridiculous, Romantic, Painful Adventures in Deafness”. Contrary to Zach Hubbard’s noise induced hearing loss, Anna’s is genetic, however, she had no idea she was hearing impaired until she was about 19 – much like many of 20-somethings interviewed by the CDC.
In her essay, Anna pokes fun at the very real tussles of being hearing impaired while dating – and struggling to follow along in group conversations – while managing to keep readers laughing along the way. She shares with readers how she got her first hearing aid at 19, was disappointed, and tried again at 22. Anna warns other young people with hearing loss that unlike eye-glasses for a visual impairment – hearing aids actually take time to adjust to, and take time to work. Hang in there –she urges – because things do get better for those who experience “adventures in deafness” like Anna. To read Anna’s entire engaging essay, visit http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/07/my-adventures-in-deafness.html
Protect Yourself, and Get a Hearing Test
No matter your age, it is important to know how and when to protect your hearing, and that there are very simple ways to do so. For example, limiting headphone or ear bud usage to 60 minutes per day at 60% volume will help to prevent noise induced hearing loss. Also, using custom hearing protection faithfully when you engage in noisy activities such as hunting, going to a concert or sporting event, attending a flight show or even mowing the lawn will help to protect your precious hearing.
If you think you may be experiencing some changes in your hearing, or frequently engage in noisy leisure activities, reach out to us at Arizona Balance and Hearing Aids to scheduled your complimentary hearing screen (or learn more tips on healthy hearing protection). We look forward to hearing from you.