Friday marks "World Hearing Day," and one local organization is using the occasion to shine a spotlight on a growing problem: noise-induced hearing loss among young people.
According to a study published in 2022, more than a billion young people are at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices. That can include being in loud bars, at concerts or sporting events, or even just listening to music in headphones or earbuds that are turned up too loud.
"We need our physicians to be talking about it. We need the media to be talking about it because it really is a primary health concern," explained Barbara Kelley, the executive director of the Hearing Loss Association of America, which has headquarters in Rockville. "If you’ve ever gone to a concert, and it’s been very loud, and you’ve come out and you have that muffled feeling in your ears or maybe ringing in your ears, which does go away typically; that indicates that some of the inner hair cells have been damaged, and bit by bit with damage of those hair cells — that’s loss of hearing."
BONN, GERMANY - APRIL 16: In this photo illustration a girl wearing headphones relaxing on a sofa on April 16, 2020 in Bonn, Germany. (Photo by Ute Grabowsky/Photothek via Getty Images)
So, what should people do?
Kelley recommends turning that volume down, not listening for too long, using earplugs in loud environments, and she mentioned that a lot of phones have features to protect your ears too.
Jake Sanders, 26, said he learned his lesson the hard way, telling FOX 5 that shortly after graduating from high school he went on a hunting trip, fired a gun without hearing protection, and suffered permanent damage in his left ear.
"Hearing is just one of those things that, you know, when it gets taken away it doesn’t come back," Sanders said. "You don’t think it can happen until it does."
For more information about World Hearing Day, or about hearing loss in general, you can visit hearingloss.org.