A Billion People At Risk For Hearing Loss

hearing loss comes at a priceThis may be music to the hearing aid industry‘s ears.  CNN is reporting that up to a billion people are at risk for hearing loss, and we’re not talking about boomers and seniors today.  The iPod generation has officially been put on notice, that continued exposure to loud noises (without protection) can and will damage your long-term hearing prospects.

iPod Generation and Hearing Loss

In February the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a press release that included these details (and more):  “Some 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices, including smartphones, and exposure to damaging levels of sound at noisy entertainment venues such as nightclubs, bars and sporting events, according to WHO. Hearing loss has potentially devastating consequences for physical and mental health, education and employment.”

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Teenagers and young people can better protect their hearing by keeping the volume down on personal audio devices, wearing earplugs when visiting noisy venues, and using carefully fitted, and, if possible, noise-cancelling earphones/headphones. They can also limit the time spent engaged in noisy activities by taking short listening breaks and restricting the daily use of personal audio devices to less than one hour. – World Health Org.

Younger folks don’t realize yet that once you lose your hearing, it’s gone for good.  The solutions are tiny devices that cost big money (yes more than your fancy new iPod nano). These devices come in the form of hearing aids or personal sound amplifiers, and this is big business for some! Did you know that the top 6 hearing aid manufacturers control 98% of the hearing aid market? Sanford C. Bernstein is a leading Wall Street research firm and in 2013 they provide key data points on the hearing aid market for industry guidance. Bernstein estimated the following market share in terms of “unit sales”:

Hearing Aid Market LeadersiPod Generation at risk for Hearing Loss

1) Sonova (owner of Phonak et al.): 24%
2) William Demant (owner of Oticon et al.): 23%
3) Siemens: 17%
4) GN Store Nord (owner of GN ReSound, et al.): 16%
5) Starkey Technologies: 9%
6) Widex: 9%

Disrupting such a well controlled market is difficult but not impossible.  Innovative companies like Apple, Samsung and a host of start-ups eyeing this market have the means, aptitude and capacity to pivot this market right on its ear!  Until then, let’s turn down the volume a bit eh? (Oh yea… and stay off my lawn!) :)

Photo credit: Apple

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Comments

  1. says

    I didn’t realize just how many people were at risk for hearing loss. I suppose with the frequent use of headphones and other listening devices, it’s not that surprising. What you said about unsafe use of personal audio devices really stood out to me. What constitutes unsafe use?

    • says

      Hi Susan – Thanks for visiting. I’d have to say that “unsafe use” is a bit subjective, but if I had to define it I’d say: Any volume that can cause short or long term damage to one’s hearing. This could be a short-term blast of high volume from something extreme (gun, bomb, concert?) or long-term exposure to very loud noises (like construction workers operating a jackhammer, or driving in pilings, etc.). What do you think?

  2. EmiliaJ says

    It is true that the over usage of audio devices may lead to hearing loss. One of my friends had lost the hearing ability of her left ear due to the over usage of smart headphones. Now, she is using high-frequency digital hearing aids, according to the instruction of her doctor in Toronto. There may be a lot of teenagers who are using headphones for loud music, it will adversely affect your eardrum or have chances to cause infection in your ear canal. Every parent should give proper instruction to their children about the after effects of these high tech audio devices.

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