Research On Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Among Young Adults In Malaysia

Noise is very common through any kind of environmental exposure and it is experienced by almost everyone in their daily life. Moreover in this industrialised era, exposure to high level of noise may cause noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) that may lead to various adverse effects. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), (NIHL) is defined as a hearing loss due to exposure of excessively loud sounds and it cannot be medically or surgically corrected. NIHL can result from a one-time exposure to a very loud sound, blast, or impulse, or from listening to loud sounds over an extended period. However, NIHL among young adults especially in Malaysia has not been studied deeply. In this essay, we will discuss further on possible causes, symptoms, effects and preventive measures of NIHL among young adults in Malaysia. Our special consideration for this topic is young adults because they are considered one of the upcoming high risk populations to be affected by NIHL. One of the causes of NIHL among young adults are due to the usage of personal listening devices (PLDs) such as mp3 players and mobile phones with a music playback function. In this digital era, young adults are more likely to follow bad habits such as making phone calls or listening to music for longer duration at high volume. They tend to do this repetitively without realising the long term potential complications such as NIHL. According to a study conducted by Sulaiman et al. (2013) in Malaysia, it has been suggested that the threshold deterioration at extended high frequencies (>8 kHz) is an early indicator of NIHL among the high school students that has been tested. Other than that, NIHL among young adults may also be caused by leisure activities such as playing in a band or attending loud concerts.

Entertaining venues such as music concerts are often flooded by mostly young adults and this increases their exposure to potentially damaging levels of sound. The more they involve in these types of leisure activities the higher the risk of getting NIHL. Although there are no proven studies in Malaysia to ensure that recreational noises may cause NIHL, other studies that have been conducted can also be taken in consideration to prevent all possible negative outcomes. The most common sign of NIHL is usually in the aspect of communication. Damage from noise exposure is usually gradual, one might not notice it, or might even ignore the signs of hearing loss until they become more pronounced. Over time, sounds may become distorted or muffled, and they might find it difficult to understand other people when they talk or have to turn up the volume on the television. Ringing in the ears, medically known as tinnitus may also be noticed especially in quiet places in individuals affected by NIHL. The negative effects of NIHL are mostly on one’s ability to respond, mingle and connect socially. Individuals may find difficulty in understanding what is being said and unable to reciprocate to keep them engaged in the conversation. This might challenge them mentally, as well as emotionally and indirectly affects their quality of life. As a young adult that has been affected by NIHL, they might not be able to indulge in daily life activities and perform certain tasks as normal hearing individuals but, this is truly dependent on the degree of NIHL. Many young adults don’t realize that hearing loss is permanent. When loud noise kills the sensitive inner-ear cells that allow us to hear, they don’t regenerate. NIHL is the only type of hearing loss that are completely preventable if we understand the hazards of noise and how to practice good hearing health. Firstly one must be aware of the type and level of loudness of noises that can cause damage to our ears such as those at or above 85 decibels. Next, always be alert and aware of hazardous noises in the environment and try to protect hearing. To practice healthy hearing young adults should always be ensure to reduce the volume when listening to music through earbud because any volume level higher than 50 percent is usually risky and may damage the ears. Avoid or limit the amount of time spend in noisy leisure activities such as concerts and night clubs. Wear adequate hearing protection, such as foam earplugs or ear muffs, when there is a need to be in a noisy environment or when using loud equipment. In conclusion, hearing loss is a rising major problem for teenagers and young adults.

According to World Health Organisation, 1. 1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe hearing habits. By the time they realise that there is hearing loss, it would be too late to reverse the negative impacts. However, regardless of how NIHL may affect a person, this condition is preventable. Thus, if sufficient level of knowledge and awareness is provided to young adults in Malaysia on nature of this disease, sign and symptoms, adverse effects and the preventive measures that are available, hearing loss and NIHL can be highly prevented.


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10 December 2020
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