The Risk of Developing a Hearing Disorder Has Increased

In the not too distant past, many who believed they may be suffering from a hearing disorder were often loath to admit to it or to consult a doctor. The reason for such an apparently self-defeating attitude seems to have arisen largely as a result of some fundamental misconceptions that, although quite unfounded were widely held. Of these, the belief that such impairment of the auditory function was a condition that served as a clear sign of premature aging has, of course, since proved to be untrue. Although it is frequently a natural consequence of the advancing years, at the very top of the list of people at risk today are those still in their teen years.

The explanation for this is as simple as it is serious. Many of those working in noisy environment such as factories, construction sites and airports learned the hard way just how destructive this type of repeated exposure to excessively loud sound can be. Many of them found themselves experiencing irreversible deafness to varying degrees. The result has been the introduction of health and safety regulations that mandate employers to supply suitable protection for those who are required to work under such conditions.

This concern for the welfare of the workforce is certainly very commendable. However, at this time, there is no such legislation to protect young people from the equally severe acoustic shock that they experience when exposed to music played at levels well above those deemed safe in other circumstances. It is not the occasional night spent at a discotheque that has led to this marked increase in the incidence of juvenile hearing disorders.

Most of us will, at some time, have experienced the effects of acoustic shock and the twin symptoms of muffled sound and ringing in the ears that are its immediate consequence. A loud firework display, a gunshot or a pop concert can all serve to produce these symptoms but, happily, they are only temporary and a gradual return to normal function and an end to the tinnitus is the inevitable outcome. Such exposure only becomes a serious hazard when it is sustained for long periods and repeated on a regular basis. Each subsequent assault on the ears acts to further intensify the symptoms before they have had the chance to recover from the previous incident. Sadly, the inevitable result is some degree of permanent and irreversible deafness that, with a little care, could easily have been avoided.

While car stereos, discos and iPods may all contribute to the condition, the use of in-ear phones that make it impossible for any sound to escape now poses the single greatest threat of permanent damage. Consequently, parents would be well-advised to, at least, inform their children of the dangers and definitely to advice against the use of this type of earphone.

Should you have doubts about the health of their ears, it is worth arranging for an audiological examination at one of the specialised Ear Institute facilities operating around South Africa. Should remediation prove necessary the institute is an approved supplier of discreet and powerful hearing aids that offer the wearer all of the unsurpassed clarity and versatility needed to normalise the lifestyle of an adult or teenager with a hearing disorder.

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