The audiometric data allowed researchers to pick out high-frequency audiometric “notches”— basically dips in a decibel vs. frequency graph that shows a participant’s ability to hear standard frequencies, tested using an audiometer. Those dips indicate deterioration of a person’s hearing; previous research has linked their existence to noise-induced hearing loss.
Overall, 24.4 percent of people in the survey had notches in the graphs for one or both of their ears. That percentage represents 39.4 million people in the US.
Males were nearly twice as likely as females to have a notch. Older people in the survey were more likely to have notches, too, which squares with well-established data showing that the risk of hearing loss increases with age. But the young weren’t in the clear: of the 20 to 29-year-olds surveyed, 19.2 percent had notches
This is pretty scary stuff, 1 in 5 people under the age of 30 are already experiencing hearing loss. The most obvious culprit is people’s earbuds, but I’m suspicious that’s just exacerbating a bigger issue. In order to give yourself hearing loss at that age, you’d have to at least initially be listening to music at volumes which are painful. When I step into a movie theater; or hear a siren proceeding through traffic; or attend a concert, my ears hurt badly. I suspect people are being exposed to way more of these painful events, and so their tolerance is being lifted, resulting them playing music in their earbuds way too loud.
Something needs to be done about the volumes being played at public events. Even if I’m wrong about them being a primary source, there’s no way it’s helping anything.