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Headphones and Hearing Loss

Technology in audio wearables creates a blur between earbuds and hearing aids

No longer does it look ridiculous to have a big earbud sticking out of your ear -- it’s become part of the norm

The entrance of Apple’s AirPods back in 2016 forced other electronics companies to develop similar products, and even hearing aid manufacturers are producing similar kinds of earbuds that stick out of a person’s ear. 

Now, four years later, earbuds are predicted to be the highest growing tech category. According to the Consumer Technology Association, devices such as Apple AirPods and Samsung Galaxy Buds will help propel the category to nearly 67 million units this year ...

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    Consumers affected by hearing loss to double by 2060, study finds

    Researchers call on policy makers to plan ahead

    If you’re at all frustrated with an older family member who’s hard of hearing, you might want to consider lightening up a bit.

    Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have conducted a study and found that the prevalence of hearing loss in older Americans is likely to rise dramatically in the next 40 years or so. Unfortunately, this is an issue that may also be indicative of greater health problems to come in the years ahead.

    “Hearing loss is a major public health issue independently associated with higher health care costs, accelerated cognitive decline, and poorer physical functioning. More than two-thirds of adults 70 years or older in the United States have clinically meaningful hearing loss,” the researchers said.

    “With an aging society, the number of persons with hearing loss will grow, increasing the demand for audiologic health care services.”

    Hearing loss rates to double

    The researchers came to their conclusions after analyzing audiometric data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. By cross-referencing this information with estimates from the 10-year population estimates from 2020 to 2060, the researchers found that the number of people that will suffer from hearing loss will increase from 44.1 million to 73.5 million during the time period.

    Additionally, the study found that older adults will be most affected by the condition. The researchers estimate that 55.4% of all adults with hearing loss will be over the age of 70 in 2020. By 2060, that figure is expected to drop slightly to 67.4%. However, hearing loss is expected to increase by 7.6% in adults 20 and over during the same period.

    The researchers point out that over the next 43 years, the number of U.S. consumers affected by hearing loss is projected to double, outpacing the overall population growth rate. They say that it is up to policy makers and elected officials to plan for this eventuality to reduce negative effects going forward.

    “These projections can inform policy makers and public health researchers in planning appropriately for the future audiologic hearing health care needs of society,” they said.

    The full study has been published in JAMA Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery.

    If you’re at all frustrated with an older family member who’s hard of hearing, you might want to consider lightening up a bit.Researchers from Johns Ho...

    Risky listening habits may lead to permanent hearing damage in young people

    A study shows that many young people are developing tinnitus due to listening to loud music

    The stigma of young people listening to loud music is one that stretches back for decades, but new research shows that it may be contributing to serious hearing problems.

    Canadian researcher Larry Roberts says that young people who listen to loud music are increasingly being affected by tinnitus, a condition signified by a constant ringing in the ears. The development of tinnitus signifies the potential for permanent hearing damage.

    “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,” he said.

    Serious health risk

    Roberts and his fellow researchers came to this conclusion after conducting a study utilizing 170 students between the ages of 11 and 17. They found that nearly all of the participants engaged in some sort of risky listening habit – whether it was listening to loud music at parties or events or on some sort of personal device.

    Additionally, they found more than 25% of participants were already experiencing symptoms of tinnitus. Participants reported hearing a constant ringing or buzzing sound in their daily life, a condition that usually doesn’t affect someone under the age of 50.

    The researchers noted that having symptoms of tinnitus did not affect how well participants could hear; although this select group of students displayed symptoms of tinnitus, they were able to hear just as well as their peers. However, this same group was found to have a reduced tolerance for loud noises, a sign that Roberts says is indicative of hidden permanent hearing damage.

    Changing habits

    Roberts and his fellow researchers are confident that their research is able to provide a glimpse into what they consider to be a growing health problem for young people.

    Although prolonged exposure to loud music or noises can cause constant tinnitus, experiencing it for short stretches should act as a warning sign, he says. For example, young people who experience symptoms of tinnitus for a day or so after listening to loud music should be cautious about their listening habits moving forward.

    The full study has been published in the journal Scientific Reports

    The stigma of young people listening to loud music is one that stretches back for decades, but new research shows that it may be contributing to serious he...

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