More than a billion teens and young people are at a higher risk of hearing loss because of their use of headphones and ear buds and attendance at loud music venues, according to a new analysis published in the open access journal BMJ Global Health.
The researchers who did the analysis opined that the Governments around the world need to urgently prioritise ‘safe listening’ policies to safeguard aural health.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 430 million people worldwide currently have disabling hearing loss.
The researchers wanted to gauge the prevalence of unsafe listening practices among teens and young adults to create a global estimate of the numbers who could therefore be at risk of hearing loss, with the aim of informing evidence-based policy to safeguard aural health. They looked at research databases for relevant studies, involving 12-34 year-olds and reporting on objectively measured device output levels and length of exposure. They dealt with thirty three studies, corresponding to data from 35 records and 19,046 participants, were included; 17 records focused on PLD use and 18 focused on loud entertainment venues.
The analysis indicated that the prevalence of unsafe listening practices from PLD use and attendance at loud entertainment venues is common worldwide—24% and 48%, respectively, among teens and young people. They estimate that the global number of teens and young adults who could potentially be at risk of hearing loss as a result ranges from 0.67 to 1.35 billion.