It’s a common myth that hearing loss only occurs in people of a certain age, that it cannot affect young members, or that hearing loss is only the result of presbycusis – age-related hearing loss. Although hearing loss is more frequent in older people and it often happens slowly over time, that is not always the case.
Hearing loss is not a condition exclusive to mature members in your organization. One in ten people in the United States have hearing loss. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows around 40 million Americans ages 20 to 69 have hearing damage. By 2050 nearly 2.5 billion people are expected to have some degree of hearing loss.
Younger members of your organization, ages 18-35, have different issues with hearing loss than someone older who may be suffering with another chronic disease. It may not appear that persons sitting at their desks may have hearing difficulties, but think again.
Noise, not age, is the leading cause of preventable hearing loss. Hearing damage from everyday noise is growing among younger Americans. Hearing damage can come from everyday loud noises, like heavy traffic or screeching sirens from police cars or other emergency response organizations. Hearing damage can also come from noisy restaurants, rock concerts, sporting events, and dance clubs. Even listening to music using headphones at loud volumes can result in irreversible hearing loss.
When loud noise destroys the inner-ear cells that enable us to hear, they don’t regenerate. What’s more, your younger members can also suffer from tinnitus, a ringing of the ears.
Hearing loss in young adults can also be a result of rare conditions.
Also known as middle ear disease. It makes it harder for the tiny bones in the middle ear to move. It causes a conductive hearing loss. This condition is often treated with surgery.
The cause of Ménière’s disease is unknown. It usually starts in people as young as 30 years old. A person with this disease will often have sensorineural hearing loss. Dizziness, ringing in the ear, and sensitivity to loud sounds are common. The hearing loss comes and goes, but over time some loss becomes permanent.
Autoimmune inner ear disease
An autoimmune disorder is one where your body attacks itself. This type of hearing loss happens quickly. Medical treatment can help keep hearing loss to a minimum.
Some medicines can cause hearing loss. These medicines include:
- Aminoglycoside antibiotics, such as streptomycin, neomycin, or kanamycin
- Large amounts of aspirin
- Loop diuretics, like Lasix or ethacrynic acid
- Some chemotherapy drugs
A tumor that causes hearing loss. It can also cause ringing in your ear and feeling like your ears are full.
Physical head injury
A traumatic brain injury (TBI), hole in the eardrum, and damage to the middle ear can also cause hearing loss.
Young, healthy adults can protect their hearing by turning down the volume in their headphones and other devices, wear earplugs when going to events where prolonged exposure to loud noises is imminent and try to limit exposure to places with loud sounds by taking breaks and stepping away from the scene.
Prevention for young people is the key to good hearing health. Hearing benefits can help persons of any age save on hearing aids, tests and other preventative measures. It’s important that your hearing plan works for younger and older members and offers excellent customer service, plans that are tailored to your organization and provides low out-of-pocket costs.