It's one of the downsides of technology.
The use of MP3's, iPods and other devices is blamed for an increased incidence of hearing loss in young people. Other activities such as playing in a band, noisy clubs and pubs, loud cars and machinery and even fireworks is also contributing to hearing loss.
Hearing loss and hearing aids are generally thought of as issues faced by old people. But Jo Sykes, manager of Tauranga Hearing Association says this is definitely not the case.
“There are young people out there who are subjecting themselves to excessive noise levels and aren't aware they're putting themselves at risk.”
She says many of them will already have Noise Induced Hearing Loss or NIHL. “But either they haven't realized it or are nervous about admitting they have a hearing problem”.
However they must understand that once hearing is lost, it won't come back.
NIHL is a form of hearing loss caused by sustained and repeated exposure to excessive sound levels. The hearing loss occurs because of damage to the Cochlea which is part of the inner ear.
Exposure to sound above a level of 85 dB initially manifests as a temporary hearing loss or ‘dullness' of hearing which recovers within 16–24 hours of the exposure.
However, with repeated or sustained exposure the hair cells and associated nerve fibers degenerate and the hearing loss becomes permanent.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss results in the loss of sensitivity and clarity of high pitched sounds and the inability to discriminate speech sounds particularly in the presence of background noise result in major communication difficulties.
People can also become intolerant of loud sounds and complain of tinnitus or ringing in the ears. These difficulties can result in physical and psychological distress for those affected by reducing their quality of life through limiting communication, entertainment, and employment opportunities.
Jo Sykes says there is no shame in seeking help - a simple, and often free hearing test will show if you have any loss of hearing. Uncorrected hearing loss can lead to social isolation and depression.
Tauranga Hearing Association urges young people to either - turn it down, walk away, or use hearing protection when around loud noise. If there is an unexpected loud noise, cover your ears with your hands.