Many of us have experienced the morning commute where every car on the morning train is full of people with white wires sprouting from their ears and the aggravation of having to listen to multiple people’s music as it throbs out of their ear buds. With the distinct lack of education around noise pollution, many of us are blissfully unaware of how our unhealthy relationship with digital devices is creating generations of individuals with hearing loss.
Several reports show that there is a direct correlation between the effects of loud noises produced by modern technology and premature hearing loss seen by the rise of hearing aid users in the 30-49 age bracket. Hearing loss is often gradual, taking place over several years and without any symptoms of physical pain, so some of us don’t notice our declining hearing until it’s too late. As technology continues to become increasingly intertwined with our day-to-day lives, what does the future hold for our hearing, and is the damage truly irreversible?
The sound of music
Big name technology brands continuously market the need for consumers to achieve the full sensory experience so we buy surround sound systems for home use to get as close to a real life cinema experience in high definition. Then there’s the general background noise that bombards our ears throughout the day – at the office, on the factory floor, on the busy city sidewalk or in our favorite pubs and restaurants.
The rise of hearing loss shows a direct correlation with the evolution of wearable audio devices like silencing headphones. Shreena Patel, a Hearing Aids manager at Clinic Compare, advises, “Quite often we are so concerned with trying to drown out every bit of background noise to try and hear our favorite podcast, playlist or film in peace that we are completely ignoring what those high volume levels are actually going to our ears. Reports have shown that nearly 66 percent of people who use personal music devices are listening to them at 85 decibels (dB) or more which can cause permanent hearing damage over time.” Although noise from modern technology is an inescapable aspect of daily life, we must enjoy it at safe levels in order to preserve our hearing.