Text neck. Nearsightedness. Difficulty with offline relationships. These are just a few complications of being a millennial (generally, people born between 1980 and 2000), due to the relationship to technology. But it’s not just millennials. Gen-Xers, born between 1960 and 1980, are also prone to a new set of health issues due to advances in technology.
One major health issue that affects Gen-Xers and millennials is hearing loss, which currently affects 48 million Americans. Taking precautions to protect your hearing will help you in the long-term with your hearing health. Here are four reasons for Gen-Xers and millennials to protect their hearing now.
1. Earbuds, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Tablets…and the Walkman
Portable music players are not new to this century. Gen-Xers wore headphones with the Sony Walkman, playing music only they could hear. The difference, though, is the length of exposure to loud music. Early versions of portable music players ran on battery power – which meant they only played for a certain period of time. Also, headphones back then did not provide the same strength and clarity of sound as today.
These days, personal electronic devices stay charged for hours, and earbuds feed dangerous volumes of music and media to the ear. Earbuds are especially harmful due to their proximity to the eardrum. Volumes increase as much as 9 decibels when played through earbuds. This is equivalent to drilling in a coal mine. Hearing specialists recommend using over-the-ear headphones rather than earbuds, especially ones than cancel noise.
2. Live Music
For musicians and fans, the experience of a show could be sublime. At the same time, it exposes people to dangerous levels of sound for extended periods of time, which could lead to permanent hearing loss. In 2015, the World Health Organization warned that “1.1 billion young people are at risk of hearing loss because of personal audio devices, such a smartphones and damaging levels of sound at entertainment venues like electronic dance music festivals, where noise levels can top 120 decibels per hour.”
Fidelity Hearing offers in-ear monitors and custom ear protection for musicians and music-lovers alike. This customized ear protection filters out the dangerous frequencies and noises, while still allowing musicians to stay on key while performing and allowing fans to enjoy the music they love.
3. Workplace Noise
Approximately 30 million people in the US are occupationally exposed to hazard noise, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Gen-Xers have been working for a while, and millennials are just beginning their careers. Hearing specialists and researchers note that exposure to sounds at 85 decibels for 8 hours increases the risk of long-term, permanent hearing loss. For some occupations, noise exposure is a part of the job – carpenters, dentists, factory workers, air traffic controllers, hair stylists (the hairdryer is loud!), and even nursery school teachers (the high-frequency of children’s voices).
To protect your hearing against occupational noise exposure – and thus hearing loss – consider customized ear protection to wear in the workplace. Fidelity Hearing offers custom ear protection molded from your ears, which provide a snug and comfortable fit for the best protection against noise.
4. Permanent Hearing Loss in the Future
Between millennials and Gen-Xers, there is a gap in hearing loss as well. Dr. Sreekant Cherukuri, an ear, nose, and throat specialist, estimates that “hearing loss among today’s teens is about 30% higher than the 1980s and 1990s.”
These days, hearing specialists recommend that people in their 50s begin the process of testing their hearing regularly – as one would get an annual physical exam or eye examination. One in three people over the age 65 and 50% of people over the age of 75 experience some form of hearing loss. Hearing aids cost thousands of dollars, and they are rarely covered in full by insurance policies or Medicare.
Noise-induced hearing loss is a compounded issue: exposure to dangerous levels of noise over a long period of time may have damaging effects on one’s hearing. And once your hearing is damaged, it is irreparable. There are treatments in the form of hearing aids – but your hearing will not return to its previous ability. Though young people are notorious for their lack of farsightedness, paying special attention to hearing now will pay off in the long-term – so you can enjoy that rock music well into your old age!