People usually associate hearing loss with the natural ageing process, assuming that only older people need hearing aids. However, this certainly isn't the case as hearing loss can occur at any age for a number of reasons. Factors such as brain injuries, loud noise, and genetics all play a role. It could be argued that hearing loss in children all the way to young adults is more likely than ever with the increased number of concerts and involvement in contact sports making them more prone to head injuries and loud noise exposure.
These are some of the main factors associated with hearing loss in children and young adults:
1. Congenital Hearing Loss
Congenital hearing loss refers to any hearing deficiency present at or before birth. It can be caused by infections, genetic complications during the birthing process, or exposure to certain medications.
2. Noise Induced Hearing Loss
A number of festivals and concerts occur every year with millions of attendants. Adolescents and children also listen to music all the time. Prolonged exposure to large noise levels can lead to noise-induced hearing loss in these individuals. Also, listening to music through earphones where the volume is turned up to excessive levels can harm your eardrums.
What Can Mitigate The Risk of Noise Induced Hearing Loss?
Luckily, there are very easy steps you can take to mitigate the risk of developing hearing loss from prolonged noise exposure. Don’t stand right in front of the speakers at a concert or festival, pay attention to how loud your headphones are if you are listening to them for long periods of time. Some smartwatches can even detect loud noise environments, alerting you when you should find a quieter spot to save your hearing, so having this feature on can be very useful.
3. Ear Infections
Many children can be exposed to ear infections from any number of germ-ridden situations. If these are not treated properly, it can lead to either temporary or permanent hearing damage. Some of the most common include Acute Otitis Media where the middle ear becomes infected and swollen. If you are concerned about any infections, make sure to contact your GP who can provide the appropriate advice.
Certain tubes within children’s ears are shorter and more horizontal which sadly makes them more susceptible to being blocked or having a build-up of fluid.
What Can Mitigate The Risk of Ear Infections In Children?
Ensure your child is practicing proper hygiene, especially after playing outdoors where exposure to germs is the highest. Promoting a generally healthy lifestyle and keeping your child away from harmful elements such as second-hand smoke can also lower their risk of developing ear infections.
4. Brain Injuries
Some head injuries can be a result of playing contact sports, during a fall, or a car accident. Regardless of the circumstance, the impact experienced in these events can damage auditory pathways within the brain and disrupt the functioning of the inner ear. The severity of hearing loss can vary and depends on the severity of the event itself.
It doesn't always have to be one singular event, especially with sports such as rugby and football where heading the ball and colliding with each other is a common occurrence. These occurrences can build up over time and eventually lead to hearing loss after a number of years.
What Can Mitigate The Risk of Brain Injuries?
It might seem obvious, but take care when driving vehicles, crossing the road, or anything that might involve a motor accident. In the case of contact sports, there is protective headgear that players can wear that act as padding between their head and the ball or other players.
While ageing is certainly a big contributor in hearing loss, there are also numerous other factors which means that nobody is "too young" to develop a condition. Participating in contact sports, brain injuries from motor accidents, and being around excessive noise levels for too long can all put you at risk no matter what age you are. As usual, practicing a healthy and balanced lifestyle is the best way forward.
Our online hearing test is free for anyone of all ages to take; it can then identify if you or your child may need further assistance. Even if you get the all-clear, taking steps to prevent hearing loss is never a bad decision. In years to come, you will thank your younger self as you converse effortlessly with your future children or grandchildren.