The Challenge to Hearing in the Modern World

Modern life has a lot going for it. A wide range of consumer choices, travel opportunities, the Internet. But it might not be so good for our ears.

It’s become clear that contemporary life, with all its noise — and the ability to drown it out with personal listening devices — is taking a toll on the hearing of people long before their “golden years.”

A study by the Better Hearing Institute found that, in people between the ages of 18 to 44, hearing loss was an issue for 25 percent of them. It also showed that 65 percent of the people in the United States with hearing issues were actually under the age of 65.

Let’s face it, life is loud today. Cars may run quieter, but there are far more of them on the road and long, grinding commutes usually means extended periods of time in noise — or turning up the volume in the car to drown it out.

And the rise of sound systems in so many public places — malls, pedestrian shopping districts, bars and restaurants — is probably another culprit. Those large-screen televisions that have become ubiquitous often come with jumbo-sized sound systems too.

In addition, as fewer and fewer quiet places continue to exist, the opportunity to give one’s ears a rest is diminished. And ears actually do benefit from regularly getting the silent treatment. All sound all the time is a problem for long-term hearing.

Finally, earbuds and headphones have become a permanent extension for many people when they are commuting or have any downtime. Too often the volume is turned up and this is certainly one factor in hearing issues becoming more prominent in younger people.

Don’t be surprised if hearing tests become a more common expectation for people in their 40s moving forward.