Photo courtesy of Nuheara

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

The Buffalo News reprinted a New York Times article about new hearing aids, including over-the-counter ones, and how younger adults are needing and using hearing aids rather than older adults.

The medical literature still doesn’t document an increase in hearing loss in younger adults, but it may take a while for research to catch up with anecdotal reports from audiologists and ENT physicians who say they are seeing hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) in patients in their late teens and early-to-mid twenties. One of these patients mentioned in the article is teacher Ayla Wing:

Ayla Wing’s middle school students don’t always know what to make of their 26-year-old teacher’s hearing aids. The most common response she hears: “Oh, my grandma has them, too.”

There are two pieces of good news in the article. One is that hearing aid users appear to be less afraid of being stigmatized by wearing them.

The second is that this impression is confirmed by the Marke Trak market research firm. The article states that “[d]ata collected in 1989 by Marke Trak, a consumer research organization that is part of Hearing Industries of America, suggested that people who wore hearing aids ‘were perceived to be less competent, less attractive, less youthful and more disabled.'” Today, though, the organization said in a recent report, hearing aid users “rarely or never feel embarrassed or rejected.” “

Since I became a noise activist, I have been asked questions about treatment of three noise-induced auditory disorders–hearing loss, tinnitus, and hyperacusis (a sensitivity to loud noise that doesn’t bother others)–multiple times. I always say that I don’t know much about treatment because my focus is on prevention. As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The only treatments for noise-induced hearing loss, amplification with cochlear implants reserved for the profoundly hearing impaired, don’t restore normal hearing.

Noise-induced hearing loss is the only type of hearing loss that is 100% preventable. Avoid loud noise, leave the noisy environment, or use hearing protection.

Because if it sounds loud, it’s too loud, and your auditory health is at risk.


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