World Hearing Day: Why We All Need to Take Better Care of Our Hearing
Celebrated on 3rd March this year, World Hearing Day highlights the importance of taking proper care of our hearing in order to prevent hearing loss and potential deafness. While the day is good at bringing the issue of hearing loss into the public eye, we should be more conscious of how our habits affect our ears at all time.
The reality is that without a hearing test, many of us are oblivious to our hearing loss as it occurs gradually over time rather than suddenly worsening. In honour of this year’s World Hearing Day, here are the top reasons why we all need to take better care of our hearing, and some tips for how to do just that.
We Are Using Personal Devices More
As far back as 2015 WHO (World Health Organisation) was highlighting the risk to our hearing, caused by the increased use of personal audio devices. Data at the time showed that young people, in particular, were at risk of hearing damage from their daily listening habits. 50% of 12-35-year-olds were found to be exposing themselves to unsafe levels of sound through their listening habits, with a further 40% exposing their ears to damaging levels of noise at entertainment venues such as clubs and bars.
People are Getting Hearing Aids at a Younger Age
Hearing loss is typically seen as an issue that affects people later in life, but according to recent reports, hearing loss among today’s youth is up 30% from hearing loss numbers amongst teenagers in the 80’s and 90’s. One of the main reasons for this is the previously mentioned increase in the use of personal audio devices. Some have also theorised that alcohol plays a part. Although it isn’t linked to hearing loss directly, its role in decreasing inhibitions can lead to dangerous behaviours, like standing far closer than advisable to speakers in clubs or at concerts. Alcohol also interferes with the acoustic reflex that protects the middle ear.
It’s not just the increased use of hearing aids among young adults that’s worrying. In what is yet another sign that we all need to take better care of our hearing, tinnitus is increasing amongst teenagers. In a study published by Scientific Reports, researchers found that from the 11-17-year-olds they surveyed over half reported tinnitus.
How to Take Better Care of Your Hearing
Now that we’ve covered why we all need to take better care of our hearing, let’s talk about some of the things you can do to look after your ears.
Since volume plays such a key role in hearing loss, addressing it is one of the best ways to take better care of your hearing. It’s safe to say that most of us spend the majority of our day with headphones in, either listening to our favourite playlist or the latest podcast. Rather than constantly turning the volume up to tune out the world, invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. These will allow you to use personal audio devices at a much lower volume without affecting the quality of the sound. Trust us, your ears will thank you for the investment!
Adding to the line-up of usual suspects when it comes to hearing damage is the use of cotton buds. Do your ears a big favour and stop using them now. Despite their popularity, doctors and audiologists have been advocating against their use for decades. If your ears are feeling blocked then book in to have them cleaned, otherwise stick to the age-old rule of never putting anything in your ear smaller than your elbow.