NPR recently conducted an interview with David Owen, the author of a new book called Volume Control in which he describes our current age as a “deafening” one and explains how the loud noises we live with are harming our ears.

Below are excerpts from his book and highlights from the interview that offer an insightful perspective on hearing loss.

Volume ControlHearing in a Deafening World

Our ears are complicated, delicate instruments that largely evolved in far quieter times than the age we currently inhabit — an early world without rock concerts, loud restaurants, power tools and earbuds.

“When we talk about age-related hearing loss, the assumption is that this is something that happens to old people,” says writer David Owen. “It is something that happens to old people — but it’s something that’s caused by things that we do when we’re young.”

Owen warns that even small household appliances like food processors and hair dryers can generate noise at levels that lead to permanent damage. He notes that people who live in places without significant background noises tend to experience less hearing loss.

“There have been a couple of studies done with populations of indigenous people who live in places where there is very little background noise and elderly people in those populations tend to hear as well as infants do,” he says.

Interview Highlights

Image result for adult with hearing loss"On the ways hearing loss affects people

People who have trouble hearing tend to have more unrelated health issues of all kinds. It, sort of, overworks our brains. If you can’t quite hear what people are saying, you have to work harder to figure it out, and the brainpower that you use to do that is brainpower that you can’t use for anything else. People who have trouble hearing also tend to withdraw.

Source: NPR