The World Health Organization has recently released alarming statistics which have brought to light the troubling fact of how many individuals are at the risk of suffering from hearing loss, simply because of “unsafe recreational noises”. The news was released to the press, as a move to share the shocking statistical result that was discovered by the organization.
WHO Statistics – A Troubling Announcement
Around 1.1 billion people are at a risk of suffering from hearing impairments or hearing loss, due to the use of different audio devices at dangerously high levels. (World Health Organization WHO, 2015)
The report states that 1.1 billion of the population; which is at a risk of suffering from severe hearing loss, consists mainly of young adults and teenagers. The use of personal audio devices along with other noisy recreational activities at entertainment venues like bars, night clubs, and different sporting events, has been estimated to have a profound impact on the hearing abilities of youngsters, which might even lead to a permanent hearing loss in some. (World Health Organization WHO, 2015)
Personal Audio Devices – Fun At The Risk Of Permanent Hearing Loss
Personal audio devices are small hardware items which enable teenagers and young adults to listen to music and videos anywhere they want. Smart phones, cell phones, MP3 players, portable audio DVD players and iPods, are majorly used by the youth to listen to their favorite music and enjoy videos at dangerously high sound levels.
However, exposure to dangerously high levels of noisy entertainment is now being considered as a major reason for possible permanent hearing loss in a major section of the world population.
Age Groups At A Risk Of Hearing Loss
Research studies conducted at different high and middle income countries, presented results, which highlighted a specific age group, which was at a higher risk of suffering from permanent hearing loss.
The teenagers and young adults from these countries, who belonged to the age bracket of 12 to 30 years, were noted to be at a high risk. The high sound levels in audio devices are being seen as the primary reason for the high risk. 50% of the young target bracket is exposed to dangerously high sounds, while around 40% are exposed to sound levels which can be potentially damaging.
The sound levels which have be
en attributed to be unsafe for hearing are the ones which exceed 85 decibels for a time period of 8 hours or of 100 decibels for just 15 minutes. (World Health Organization WHO, 2015)
Global Region Statistics
The hearing loss is distributed on a global scale, with South Asia heading the count with 27% of the total world cases. Meanwhile, East Asia has a reported share of 22%, while Asia Pacific has 10% and Latin America and the Caribbean having 9% reported disabled hearing loss cases in the world. (World Health Organization WHO, 2012). Along with a number of other reasons, exposure to noisy sounds is a contributive factor to these global statistics.
The reason for this high count in middle and high income countries is attributed to the dangerous use of audio devices and constant exposure to harsh sounds in the surroundings.
Reasons For Increase Of Risk
The high sound levels which exceed the safety limits as defined by audiologists, doctors and WHO and other welfare organizations, are a major reason for the increased risk of permanent hearing loss in teenagers and young adults.
Unsafe headphones and earplugs which do not offer complete protection from the dangerously high sound frequencies are another risk factor. Low volumes on audio devices, and the use of proper earplugs, which reduce or cancel out the sounds from noisy surroundings, are ways to minimize the risk of permanent hearing loss in the youth of today.
Limiting the time spent in noisy surroundings engaged in different noisy activities, and reducing the time spent listening to personal audio devices to one hour a day, can also further help to reduce the risk of hearing loss in young adults and teenagers.
This article is written by: Dr. Lori Trentacoste, head audiologist at Island Better Hearing (www.islandbetterhearing.com) All images and content in this article are the sole property of the LIAHP and Dr. Trentacoste (c) 2015, All rights reserved whereby use of this article and/or other written projects in this blogsite must be done with express permission from Dr. Lori Trentacoste.
World Health Organization WHO. (2015). 1.1 Billion People at Risk of Hearing Loss. World Health Organization WHO. https://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/ear-care/en/
World Health Organization WHO. (2012). WHO Global Estimates on Prevalence of Hearing Loss. WHO . https://www.who.int/pbd/deafness/WHO_GE_HL.pdf