26.05.2024

Record number of under-50s lose hearing

One in four people in England will suffer from hearing loss by 2030 due to the fact they are listening to music too loudly, according to new research.

Recently published figures show that over a third of patients arriving at hospital with hearing problems are under 50, accounting for almost 50,000 admissions.

Whereas a decade ago people under the age of 50 represented just a quarter of hearing-related hospital admissions.

Researchers believe that, if this trend continues, a significant proportion of the population will have reduced hearing, many of whom will require a hearing aid. And experts believe the rise in hearing problems has primarily been triggered by people regularly listening to loud music through headphones.

‘It’s become normal for people to walk around every day listening to music at a very high volume,’ says Dr Luke Twelves, medical lead at clinical trial firm Lindus Health, which carried out the research.

‘The result of this is that we’re now seeing a worrying number of young people damaging their hearing. Thousands of people in the UK will end up needing hearing aids because of this damage.’

Recently published NHS figures show that over a third of patients arriving at hospital with hearing problems are under 50, accounting for almost 50,000 admissions

Recently published NHS figures show that over a third of patients arriving at hospital with hearing problems are under 50, accounting for almost 50,000 admissions

One in four people in England will suffer from hearing loss by 2030 due to the fact they are listening to music too loudly, according to new research

Hearing loss is a common problem in old age and nearly half of people over the age of 75 have difficulty hearing. This is because, over time, the bones and nerve-endings in the ear are worn down, affecting the ability to hear well.

However, there has been growing concern that these sensitive parts of the ear are being damaged at a much earlier age than in previous generations, due to the rise in people regularly listening to loud music through headphones. Last year, The World Health Organisation launched a campaign calling on tech companies to enforce limits on how loud music could be played from mobile phones and personal audio devices.

The recommendations also focused on loud music in venues, which can impact attendees’ hearing.

Experts say that damage to the ear can also lead to tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing sound which can last for months or even a lifetime. There are currently no effective treatments for tinnitus.

Lindus Health is now working with health firm Oto to carry out a clinical trial to see if therapy can be an effective tool for reducing the severity of tinnitus. ‘Tinnitus is very common in patients who suffer hearing loss and it can have a major impact on a patient’s wellbeing,’ says Dr Twelves.

‘We haven’t had much luck developing new drug treatments for tinnitus but therapy could be a really helpful tool to help patients cope with the symptoms.’

However, according to Dr Twelves, the best protection against hearing loss and tinnitus is to avoid regular exposure to loud sounds.

He says: ‘People need to think very carefully about how loud they have their headphones, because once you lose your hearing it’s very unlikely to come back.’

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