One in Ten People Could Lose Their Hearing, According to ENT Specialists

Both the World Health Organization and SEORL-CCC specialists warn about the serious risk to hearing common practices, such as being exposed to high noise levels, following an inadequate diet, and consuming certain drugs. Learn more here.
One in Ten People Could Lose Their Hearing, According to ENT Specialists

Last update: 21 July, 2021

One in ten people could lose their hearing in the next 30 years if risk factors such as exposure to loud noises, use of drugs that are toxic to the ear, and poor diet aren’t mitigated.

The Spanish Society of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery (SEORL-CCC) stated this on World Hearing Day 2021, celebrated each year on March 3.

Experts argue that, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), 34 million children and 432 million adults around the world suffer from disabling hearing loss, of which 60% are due to preventable causes.

According to this organization, by 2050, the figure could increase to 900 million, which means that one in ten people could suffer hearing loss or even lose their hearing.

Young people are at risk of losing their hearing

The WHO states that approximately 1.1 billion young people are at risk of severe hearing loss, due to their frequent exposure to loud noises in recreational settings. People between the ages of 12 and 35 are the most exposed to this type of stimulus.

Dr. Luis Lassaletta, president of the Otology Commission of the SEORL-CCC, pointed out that it isn’t easy to raise awareness among young people about the risks of high noise levels. Many of them frequent nightclubs, bars, and concerts, places with high sound levels.

Likewise, the use of headphones and the continuous use of cell phones are risk factors. Experts explain that not only the intensity of the volume counts but also the exposure time to these devices.

A boy getting an ear exam.
Young people are most at risk of losing their hearing.

Hearing, nutrients, and drugs

A bad diet is another factor that influences hearing loss at all ages. Recently published studies link the consumption of sugar and some alcoholic beverages, such as beer, with deafness, especially in older people.

Dr. María José Lavilla, president of the SEORL-CCC’s Audiology Commission, pointed out that high cholesterol levels, obesity, and diabetes could also make people lose their hearing. Not to mention the consumption of alcoholic beverages, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle.

Likewise, the specialist indicated that frequent drug use is also related to hearing loss. Drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, diuretics, and antibiotics of the aminoglycoside group are considered ototoxic. Therefore, you should consume them prudently.

A doctor examining a woman's ear.
Periodic ear exams with a professional can detect any alteration early.

Prevention in children

60% of hearing loss cases in people under 15 are due to preventable causes. It’s particularly important to take some basic measures to prevent this problem in this segment of the population.

The most important thing is to take care of the mother’s health during pregnancy and to vaccinate children against childhood diseases. 31% of cases of deafness stem from diseases such as measles, mumps, and others. In turn, 17% are related to premature birth, low birth weight, and perinatal asphyxia.

It’s also essential to get your child tested for otitis media and to make sure they get periodic ear exams. Early diagnosis significantly improves treatment and prognosis.

Simple steps you can take to care of your hearing

Many sound devices include a function called “sound allowance.” It’s software that tracks listening habits and issues warnings when you enter unsafe hearing environments. The WHO-ITU standard recommends all devices have this function.

Similarly, the WHO recommends people avoid exposing themselves to high noise levels, at any age and in any environment. If necessary, you should use safety headphones or earplugs. Regular ear exams are also very important, as they allow early detection and treatment of possible problems.

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