According to a recent study by Canadian researcher Larry Roberts, there is a frightening increase in the number of young people with tinnitus, a condition that causes ringing or buzzing in the ears.
According to Roberts, of McMaster’s Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour, “It’s a growing problem and I think it’s going to get worse. My personal view is that there is a major public health challenge coming down the road in terms of difficulties with hearing.”
The researchers interviewed and performed hearing tests on a group of 170 students aged between 11 and 17.
They found that virtually 100% of the group participated in what was termed “risky listening habits” with their personal listening devices or during their social activities, and that almost 25% of them already had persistent tinnitus.
The reason this is so alarming is that up until very recently, tinnitus almost exclusively affected people over the age of 50!
The researchers found that the students with early tinnitus could hear as well as the students who didn’t have tinnitus, but were much more intolerant of loud noises.
That intolerance to loud noises is a sign of damage to the nerves that process sounds and is a warning sign of significant hearing loss in the future.
When the auditory nerves are damaged, the sound processing parts of your brain basically overcompensate and increase sensitivity to the inputs that remain, thus every sound can seem louder than it once did and lead to an intolerance to loud noises, as found with the test subjects.
But, despite the dire nature of this problem, there is good news; it’s never too early, or too late, to take care of your hearing.
This is a totally preventable condition. It’s simply a matter of education and lifestyle changes and the earlier someone starts the better their outcome will be.
If you want to know more, or want some information about how to talk to the teens and young adults in your life, come in and see me. I’ll do whatever I can to help!