Hearing loss affects one in four young people

Teens sharing earphones (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget)Teens sharing earphones (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget)

One in four Dutch young people between the ages of 12 and 25 years suffer from hearing loss. The main culprit is exposure to loud music while going out or listening to portable music players.

This is according to researchers from the Amsterdam Medical Center (AMC) baseed on the results of online self-tests,  NOS reports. Between 2010 and 2014 more than 300 thousand people did these online hearing tests, which involves hearing a few simple words with varying levels of background noise. The test measures how much you can hear in a noisy environment. Finding it difficult to understand people while there is background noise is one of the first signs of hearing loss.

The number of young people achieving bad scores in these tests have remained relatively stable in recent years. According to the National Hearing Foundation, these figures indicate "a structural and substantial health problem".

Hearing damage is caused by long or regular exposure to loud sounds. Hearing loss is often irreversible. Major culprits are listening to loud music on headphones and when going out. An MP3 player at maximum level can produce sounds of up to 105 decibels, and the noise level in clubs and bars are often between 104 and 112 decibels. The guidelines from the World Health Organization state that people should not be exposed to sounds at that level for more than 4 minutes a day.

The National Hearing Foundation has been saying for some time that politicians should pay more attention to hearing damage.  "Hearing loss has life-long impact on the welfare, educational attainment and employment prospects of young people," according to director Luara van Deelen. "We really need to get a national action plan against hearing damage."