More than 360 million people worldwide are suffering from hearing loss, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced.
Despite attributing some of this to an aging global population, which would naturally create greater hearing deterioration, there is again concern that modern environmental pressures are having an impact of their own.
“There are conditions which lead to this hard-of-hearing situation…… importantly - noise, which is something which was traditionally limited to the occupational arena… But, today, with environmental noise, with increasing technology - well, noise is a part of all our lives.”
The WHO has warned that it is young people, as well as old, who are being adversely affected – another 32 million affected by hearing loss are children under the age of 15. This is worrying, particularly when it can be attributed in part to our own lifestyle choices: “Nowadays it’s recreational loud noise that’s the main problem, especially from MP3 players, such as iPods, and noisy clubs and music gigs,” say the NHS.
“That's thought to be why hearing loss is increasingly affecting younger people.”
This is a well-documented trend but one which must be reversed if we are to protect the hearing abilities of future generations. While other causes of hearing loss outlined by the WHO - such exposure to infectious diseases, genetic causes or, notably, old age - are more difficult to prevent, exposure to excessive noise is something tangible and within our control.
The WHO subsequently urges countries to develop programs to prevent hearing loss within their health care systems. The NHS currently offers a range of advice via their website for protecting your ears, particularly from loud music. Their number one tip, fittingly, being the use of earplugs!
If you are in any doubt as to why you might need ear protection, please read our info graphic.