The reality of modern life may not be so good for our ears. There are increasing signs that hearing loss is something that is becoming more common in younger adults. In fact, one study by the Better Hearing Institute indicates that in the 18- to 44-year-old demographic group a surprising 25 percent have reported hearing loss issues. Correspondingly, the study pointed out that in raw numbers more people under the age of 65 have hearing issues than those over retirement age.
The causes for the slowly evolving new phenomena can probably be boiled down to “too loud, too often.” Contemporary life is not only loud, but also somewhat unceasing.
First is the rise of media consumption as an activity that spans hours of every day. The plethora of devices with which to watch and listen to media has increased sharply, as has the amount of time people spend doing so. Ears have far less downtime and opportunity to listen to the sounds of silence.
And the use of earbuds and headphones with most of these devices means very direct sound being pushed into ear canals — sometimes at a volume higher than is advisable.
Even with the earbuds out, ears are still subject to more noise at a higher volume than a generation or two ago. Instead of an old TV above the bar or a movie theater sporting the latest “stereo” sound, many of today’s watering holes have huge flat-screen TVs and the sophisticated sound systems that go with them and movies now include “surround sound” experiences that push up the decibels.
And “quiet” public places are just harder to find. Sound pollution is a fact of life in most places — especially for people working in industries where loud noise is an ever-present fact of life.
For these reasons, don’t be surprised if hearing aids become a part of the discussion long before the “golden years” have been achieved.