In Singapore more young people, particularly men, are being affected by hearing problems. Statistics from the Changi General Hospital in Singapore show that 40 per cent of those diagnosed with hearing loss are younger than 40 years of age. This figure is a two-fold jump from what the hospital was seeing five to eight years ago.
Dr Yuen Heng Wai, a consultant otolaryngologist at the hospital, explaining this trend, said males - more so than females - are more frequently exposed to noise such as that at night clubs and from audio devices.
Hard to seek treatment
Acknowledging that higher awareness of the issue could contribute to the figures, Dr Yuen is, however, more concerned about getting youths to seek treatment.
"To them it is a big blow as hearing loss has always been associated with old age. They feel they have become less complete and stigmatised," said Dr Yuen.
To make matters worse, these hearing-impaired youths are resisting the use of hearing aids.
At Raffles Hospital in Singapore, one to two young men - between the ages of 15 and 30 - are seen every week for the treatment of hearing difficulties. The hospital's specialist in ENT surgery, Dr Stephen Lee, noted that "there has been a perceptible increase" over the past two years. He recommends that those who use audio devices go for a test at least once to check if their hearing ability has been affected.
Problems after swimming
Engaging in water sports is another emerging cause. Bacteria in dirty water stays in the ear and causes discomfort, said Dr Yuen of CGH. When patients try to ease the discomfort by "sticking all sorts of things" into their ears, the situation worsens.
In the past year alone, he has seen more than 10 patients who have experienced hearing problems after swimming.
A safety guideline for those who could suffer from impaired hearing would be to seek treatment if they experience difficulty in understanding what others are saying or having to ask them to repeat themselves.
Causes of hearing loss