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Myth: It’s not me. I’m not old enough to have hearing loss.
Of the 48 million individuals who have hearing loss in the US, it’s common to presume that the vast majority are old. That is not the truth. For those troubled with hearing loss in the US, approximately 62 percent are younger than 65. In fact, 1 in 6 baby boomers (ages 55-73), 1 in 14 Generation Xers (35-54), 1.4 million children (18 or younger), and 2-3 out of 1,000 infants have some form of hearing loss.1
Myth: But I love music. It’s not harmful.
In one of the largest studies ever performed on hearing disorders affiliated with musicians, researchers discovered that musicians are 57% more likely to suffer from tinnitus—consistent ringing in the ears—as a result of their job.8 If you’re a musician, or if you participate in live events, safeguard your ears. Some 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices, including smartphones, and exposure to damaging levels of sound at noisy entertainment venues such as nightclubs, bars and sporting events.9 Musicians can benefit from professional earplugs that provide safe listening and preserve sound quality.
Truth: More than 200 medications can cause hearing loss
Here’s a little-known fact: specific medications can harm the ear, causing hearing loss, ringing in the ear, or balance problems. These medications are considered ototoxic. In fact, there are more than 200 identified ototoxic medications. To check on the side effects of your medication, go to www.drugs.com.
Truth: Headphones or hearables can lead to permanent hearing loss.
According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the prolonged use of headphones and earbuds has led to a major increase in the prevalence of hearing loss in adolescence and young adults. Having a sound projected directly into your ear canal can increase a sound’s volume by 6 to 9 decibels — enough to cause some serious problems. Not only can the inner ear be damaged by the loudness of noise, but it can also be damaged by the length of exposure. If the ear is not given enough time to recover between episodes of noise exposure, permanent damage can occur.
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Myth: Hearing loss is unavoidable with age.
Hearing loss has many causes, including genetics, certain medications, and exposure to loud noises. Smoking and diabetes also can lead to hearing impairment. Like skin damage from sun exposure, the cumulative effect of today’s loud societies has led to a greater incidence of hearing loss that becomes increasingly apparent over a lifetime—that is, in older adults. Noise exposure is the most preventable cause of hearing loss.
Myth: Excessive noise won’t cause hearing loss.
Any sounds above 85 decibels for an extensive time can contribute to permanent noise-induced hearing loss. What does that mean? To put that into perspective, a typical conversation is around 60 decibels and is unlikely to damage your hearing. A hair dryer or a power lawnmower is 90 decibels, while an ambulance siren is 120 decibels. Regular and prolonged unprotected exposure above 85 decibels is considered hazardous. Noise-induced hearing loss can occur in work environments, like in manufacturing, construction and any environment that uses heavy machinery. The louder the sound, the shorter the amount of time it takes for hearing loss to occur.