A recent study in middle and high-income countries analyzed by WHO indicate that some 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices and exposure to damaging levels of sound at noisy entertainment venues such as nightclubs, entertainment and sporting events.
"As they go about their daily lives doing what they enjoy, more and more young people are placing themselves at risk of hearing loss," said Etienne Krug, WHO director for the Department for Management of Non-communicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention.
He added that taking simple preventive actions would allow people to continue to enjoy themselves without putting their hearing at risk. WHO recommends that the highest permissible level of noise exposure in the workplace is 85 dB up to a maximum of eight hours a day.
For places like nightclubs, entertainment and sporting events, where noise level usually range over 100 dB, one's hearing is safe for no more than 15 minutes. 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.
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, suggests WHO.
According to WHO, an estimated 360 million people worldwide have moderate to profound hearing loss due to various causes, such as noise, genetic conditions, complications at birth, certain infectious diseases, chronic ear infections, the use of particular drugs and ageing. Half of all cases of hearing loss are avoidable.