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Facts about hearing and hearing loss.

The generation most affected by hearing loss are the baby boomers.

Fact 1: Hearing loss doesn’t just affect old people.

Since hearing loss worsens with age, you would normally assume that most hearing loss sufferers are of retirement age. Up to a few years ago, this assumption was correct. Yet the oldest members of society are now no longer the most affected by hearing loss; instead, it’s the still active baby boomer generation (born in the 1950s and 60s). For example: In America, there are 10 million baby boomers with mild to severe hearing loss compared to just 9 million people with hearing loss over the age of 65.

Experts agree that this development is the result of steadily increasing and continuous noise exposure, based on lifestyle and environment. For instance, the baby boomers have regularly listened to loud music since their youth – in discos, at rock concerts and at home. What’s more, they have also faced increasing noise pollution in other areas of their day-to-day lives, such as traffic noise.

This is alarming. This trend is continuing among baby boomers’ children – but more acutely. The main reasons for this are increasing environmental noise and regularly listening to overly loud music, especially through headphones.

Father and daughter listening music
Woman hearing raindrops

Fact 2: Each listening situation is different.

Even if you don't usually notice it, we go through a series of different listening situations on any given day. Outdoors, it’s usually wind noise and the sound of traffic. However, even inside buildings, it’s rarely quiet as soon as several people are together – just think of the permanent ambient noise level in a big office. The problem is that the denser the “soundscape,” the harder it is to hear and above all to understand speech – especially for people with hearing loss.

This is because, contrary to popular opinion, hearing loss does not simply make everything quieter, but causes noises to become “blurred”. It’s like hearing a mishmash of sounds where it is more difficult to unravel the more ingredients (surrounding sounds) it contains. Moreover, it’s precisely some of the most important consonants which are the first to gradually disappear from what can be heard: P, K, F, H or all T, Sh and S sounds. This directly affects language comprehension.

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