A quarter of under-35s have early signs of hearing loss, study reveals

Nearly half of 16-35 year olds have a hearing age that is older than their biological age.

A fake plastic ear surrounded by multi-coloured foam earplugs.

Image: MirageC / Getty Images

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An analysis carried out by auditory training app Eargym has revealed that a quarter of people under the age of 35 have early signs of hearing loss.

Eargym was founded by former NHS CEO Amanda Philpott and DJ Andy Shanks in 2020, who were both diagnosed with hearing loss. It uses games to simulate realistic and challenging listening scenarios to improve users’ ability to derive meaning from the sounds they hear.

The new findings have been gathered from over 1,000 people over a four-month period. Researchers analysed the results of a scientifically-validated “speech-in-noise” activity delivered via the Eargym app to acquire the data.

Of the 16-35 year olds who completed the “speech-in-noise” check, a quarter (24 percent) were categorised as having hearing loss, with a further 19 percent of users aged 16-35 having possible hearing loss.

Overall, hearing loss or possible hearing loss was detected in just under half (43 percent) of 16-35 year olds. The study also revealed that nearly half (47 percent) of 16-35 year olds have a hearing age that is older than their biological age, with an average difference of 13 years. A further half said their hearing ability is impacting their quality of life.

The data uncovered corroborates ongoing concerns from the World Health Organisation that billions of young people are at increased risk of hearing loss due to prolonged use of earbuds and headphones, as well as regular exposure to loud music at gigs.

Amanda Philpott, CEO and co-founder at Eargym, says of the findings: “Hearing loss is an emerging crisis for young people. The majority of us will experience some form of hearing loss in our lifetimes, but it’s particularly concerning to see an unexpected number of young people worried about their hearing and showing signs of hearing difficulties.

“The good news is: hearing loss is preventable, and we can take proactive steps to look after and improve our hearing at any age. Research shows that whilst the ear itself cannot be directly improved without hardware, the brain can learn and respond to specific auditory stimuli through regular training.”

She later adds, “The only way to understand what’s going on with our hearing is to test it regularly, so we notice when it changes. Safe listening practices, such as the use of ear defenders, gigplugs and noise-cancelling headphones, can make the world of difference when it comes to protecting our hearing health long into our futures.”

Find out more at Eargym.

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