02 August 2005

Hearing aids at the age of forty

Half of the young population in Barcelona, Spain, has permanent hearing problems due to noise exposure from discos, personal stereos and traffic. Many will need a hearing aid by the age of 40.

A study carried out among 60 students, aged between 14 and 27 years, indicated that half of them had some level of hearing disorder.

The study based on hearing screenings and personal interviews showed that 33 percent of the participants suffered from minor hearing loss, while 17 percent had serious hearing problems. According to Robert Bartí, head of the study and director of the Centre for Acoustic Development at La Salle School of Engineering and Architecture, the 17 percent with serious hearing problems are likely to need hearing aids by the time they reach the age of 40.

Music is hard on your ears
Taking individual listening habits into account, the survey also pointed towards the possible causes of the hearing loss. In the group with serious hearing problems, 35 percent of the young Barcelonans stated that they went to discos once a week, while 44 went once a month. In addition, one in four listened to personal stereos at harmful noise levels.

Among the 33 percent young Barcelonans with minor hearing loss, researchers did not find a consistent pattern. One possible explanation for their hearing loss might be the exposure to urban noise, particularly from traffic. In Barcelona, noise levels between 75 and 90 dB are commonplace.

The researchers concluded that the exposure to high levels of noise from discos, personal stereos and traffic is one of the main reasons for people under the age of 55 to need hearing aids.

Source: El Periodico, 26th April, 2001.

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