Boomers who grew up with lectures from Mom to “turn down that hi-fi!” may now be paying the price for their love of decibels.
According to hearing loss researcher Richard Salvi, Ph.D., "Baby boomers now have reached an age where hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ear) become major health problems. Many have already lost much of their hearing and developed tinnitus due to years of listening to loud rock music.”
Salvi explains, “Hearing aids, not yet considered a fashion statement, will become a necessary part of the boomers' dress code as the prevalence of age-related hearing loss begins to accelerate beyond age 65. While hearing aid technology and miniaturization have steadily advanced, restoring the hearing of our youth remains a formidable challenge."
Salvi, Professor of Communicative Disorders, Otolaryngology and Neurology, is Director of the Center for Hearing and Deafness at the University at Buffalo in New York. He says, "Hearing healthcare costs are skyrocketing due to noise exposure and aging." Salvi has studied hearing loss in combat veterans. He says, "The Veterans Administration ranks hearing loss as one of its top five major disabilities. In 2010, the VA paid out more than $1 billion for tinnitus disability claims alone."
This trend also appears in the general population, where, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 18% of baby boomers are already dealing with some degree of hearing loss from continued exposure to loud noise and age-related changes in the ear. The figure is expected to double during the next decade.
"Severe to profound hearing loss and tinnitus associated with aging and noise exposure are not just hearing problems; they can lead to social isolation, anxiety and depression, contributing to an overall decline in one's general health," Salvi says.
Source: University at Buffalo Center for Hearing and Deafness
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders offers information about avoiding recreational, occupational and environmental noise-induced hearing loss.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website includes information on protecting our ears from damaging noise.
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