A recent study showed that one out of five Americans that are 12 years or older, suffer from hearing loss. This new research was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine and is lead by Frank R. Lin, MD, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University. Researchers took a look at men and women of all different types of race and are 12 years or older and found that approximately 48 million people have hearing loss in one or both of their ears. “It’s a pretty shocking number,” said Lin.
Hearing loss has been doubling with every age decade, but this study has shown that women and blacks were less likely to suffer than men, whites and Hispanics and especially college students. Researcher Pamela A. Smith, PhD, assistant professor of audiology and speech pathology at Bloomsburg University noted, “They tend to turn it up in noisy environments and then are surprised later at how loud it is.”
While the researchers are trying to figure out if estrogen and melanin in darker skinned people could help from hearing loss. Dr. Rob Jackler, chairman of the American Academy Otolaryngology Hearing committee and a professor at Stanford University School of Medicine said, “This certainly suggests that there can be some genetic-based hearing loss along with environmentally based loss.”
Frank R. Lin, MD, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University said, “Hearing loss is inevitable in many ways, and a lot of people view it as inconsequential, which is where there is a big mistake. Hearing loss has a great impact on cognitive abilities and can progressively lead to social isolation and loneliness.”
Having a ringing type sound or a hollow sound in your ear after you’ve been listening to something really loud could be a “red flag” for damage to your hearing. Dr. Jackler stated, “Shooting guns or having a firework go off near your ear is even more dangerous. The ear has a defense mechanism that mitigates slightly continuous sounds. There are little muscles that tighten to resist sound, which allows for a minor degree of protection, but impulse noises get in before the ear has time to defend itself.”
The only problem is many people don’t notice hearing loss until they are in their 50’s because it’s so gradual. As Lin said, “You don’t see the effects of true hearing loss for several years. It’s hard to say how much the ears will be affected from iPods and such. It’s certainly not going to help your hearing, but we just don’t know how much it’s going to hurt it.”