One billion young people risk hearing loss from loud music | Deafness and hearing loss

More than 1 billion teens and young adults may be at risk for hearing loss because of using headphones, earphones and earplugs and attending loud music venues, a study suggests.

An international team of researchers estimates that 24% of 12 to 34 year olds listen to music at an “unsafe level” on personal listening devices. The findings were published in the journal BMJ Global health.

They called on governments to implement safe listening policies “as a matter of urgency”.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 430 million people of all ages worldwide currently have hearing loss. Young people are particularly vulnerable due to their use of personal eavesdropping devices (PLDs), such as smartphones, headphones and earbuds, and due to frequenting loud music venues, amid poor regulatory enforcement.

“Recurrent or even single instances of unsafe listening can cause physiological damage to the auditory system, manifested by transient or permanent tinnitus and/or changes in hearing,” the researchers said.

“Damage from unsafe listening can increase over the life course, and exposure to noise earlier in life can make individuals more vulnerable to age-related hearing loss.”

Their study examined the rates of unsafe listening around the world.

The researchers, led by academics from the University of South Carolina in the US, examined previous studies of personal eavesdropping devices and loud music venues that took place between 2000 and 2021.

Thirty-three studies involving just over 19,000 people were included in the analysis.

The authors estimate that 23% of the adults studied and 27% of the “minors” were exposed to excessive noise from personal listening devices.

They also predicted that 48% of people aged 12 to 34 around the world are exposed to excessive noise in loud music venues such as clubs or bars, but warned there was “limited certainty” in the estimate. Based on these figures, the researchers estimate that the global number of teens and young adults potentially at risk for hearing loss ranges from 0.67 billion to 1.35 billion.

The authors acknowledged that the findings did not take into account “demographic factors” or “changes in safe listening policies in some countries,” but concluded that exposure to loud music in venues and through personal listening devices could potentially affect as many as a billion teens and young people. mean. adults may be at risk of hearing loss later in life.

They concluded: “Unsafe listening practices are common worldwide and could put more than 1 billion young people at risk of hearing loss.

“These findings highlight the urgent need to implement global policies focused on safe listening habits to promote hearing loss prevention.”

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