A new study published in the journal Hearing Research suggests that early signs of hearing damage may be seen in young individuals who attend loud music events.
According to the World Health Organization, more than a billion young individuals globally are at risk of noise-induced hearing loss, much of it being preventable.
Researchers at the University of Manchester performed a detailed evaluation of hearing health of 123 young adults (age, 18-27 years). The participants including musicians and non-musicians provided a comprehensive account of the amount of noise exposure they had experienced during their life.
The findings showed that all individuals participating in the study had clinically normal hearing as per pure-tone audiometry; however, those exposed to the highest levels of noise exhibited poorer functioning of the tiny hair cells in the inner ear which play a crucial role in hearing. Moreover, individuals exposed to higher noise levels had poorer conduction of sound signals from the auditory nerve towards the brain, which could adversely affect sound processing.
Surprisingly, no differences were observed in the amount of noise exposure between musicians and non-musicians, owing to the fact that both had relatively high levels of exposure to recreational noise.
The authors said: "Crucially, what our research reveals is that all young adults who engage in noisy recreational activities without using hearing protection are at risk of hearing damage. It’s likely that without a change in our attitudes towards noise exposure and hearing protection, we will see many more people presenting with hearing problems later in life."