Each year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) focuses on a theme to raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care across the ‘lobe’. The 2022 theme is, ‘To hear for life, listen with care’.
And the safe listening message could not have come at a better time according to Hutt Valley DHB Audiology Professional Leader Kylie Bolland, who said with sound/audio technology ramping up intensely over the years, so has the potential further risk to our hearing safety, particularly in younger generations.
“Historically it has been older males in particular working in very noisy environments that induces hearing loss. But what the concern now is that we are seeing younger people having noise damage from recreational activities, such as listening to music loudly.”
Bolland said on average it takes seven years for people to realise from the first time they feel they have got a hearing problem to when they actually get a hearing test’ and do something about it. So now, it was all about getting people aware that regular loud noise can cause significant hearing damage in the long run.
“One thing a lot of people do not realise is that it is about a dose of noise you take in. If you are in a noisy work place and then you go out to another noisy environment then your overall dose is actually quite high. People have to be aware of how much noise is actually out there. If you go to a gym, the music tends to be very loud, so if you are doing that more often, then going to an event or a bar later on with louder noise, anecdotally, that brings about people having more difficulty hearing down the track.”
Because all sorts of electronic devices are being used by most people today, Bolland encouraged people to get properly fitted headsets that would help block out any extra noise so they can still clearly listen to their music at a safe level.
“There are lots of people wearing earphones that often do not fit that well so they are having to turn the volume up quite loudly to overcome the background noise and get a good sound. And with the amount of time younger people are spending on their devices, well, that overall dose of noise is not going to help any hearing issues.”
She also encouraged people not to leave getting a hearing test to the last minute.
“Because hearing loss is something you can’t see, it is hard to tell whether you are being affected. It normally starts quite gradually, so it is not until you have quite significant hearing loss that you realise that you need to do something about it. If you are suddenly finding any issues with your hearing, not matter how small, come in and get checked.”