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Young People are at Risk of Early Hearing Loss, Research Shows

— December 7, 2022

Loud music is causing young people to lose their hearing prematurely.

It has been a known fact for a long time that listening to music loudly can cause hearing loss. When it comes to young people from the ages of 12 to 34, studies have found that unsafe listening practices with headphones and earbuds range from about 24 percent to 48 percent of all listeners.

This means that about 1 billion teens are at risk for hearing loss later in life. Young people are more likely to listen to music through headphones and are more likely to listen to music at high volumes. 

The author of the study, Lauren Dillard said this shows how important it is to make sure young adults know the procedures of safe listening and that they are aware of the dangers of listening to music loudly. Dillard is a consultant for the World Health Organization (WHO) and is also a postdoctoral fellow at the Medical University of South Carolina. 

She also states that to make sure children and young adults know about safe listening, advocates will need the help of the government and stakeholders. Public awareness has to grow around the consequences of listening too loudly. This was a global study that shows that young people all over the world are at risk of hearing loss. The study was also published in several different languages including English, French, Spanish, and Russian. 

Young People are at Risk of Early Hearing Loss, Research Shows
Photo by Kinkate Gruber from Pexels

It reported on objectively measured device output levels and the length of the exposure from the personal listening devices. The study did not measure the level of the heading loss directly though. 

Overall, the research encompassed 33 smaller studies with 19,046 participants and 17 records focused on the personal listening device while 18 records focused on loud music at venues that young people frequent for entertainment. 

Although the study has limitations, researchers say that over a billion young people are at risk of hearing loss as they get older. However, not all of these people will develop hearing loss. They are just at a higher risk because of unsafe listening practices. 

To reduce the risk of hearing loss, people should consider turning down the volume of their music and listening to music through headphones for a shorter period of time. 

Listeners are also encouraged to use noise-canceling headphones so that there is no background noise and they do not need to turn up the volume of the headphones to overpower other noises in the environment.

Music should also be turned off if people notice ringing in the ears or if it’s difficult to hear after the music has been turned off. For those at entertainment venues who are concerned about hearing loss might consider not attending the whole event or not attending events very often. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also suggests increasing the distance between a person and the source of the noise as well as wearing hearing protection in noisy areas.

You can also use hearing protection devices at loud concerts or choose sitting that is further away from the speakers. WebMD adds that smoking can cause warning loss so it’s best to avoid smoking altogether. 

WHO’s recommendations for safe listening can be found here. 


WHO: Making listening safe

Young people at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices: New study


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