AUSTIN, Texas — It creeps up on you. All of a sudden you have to turn up the volume on the television or maybe you can't hear your friends at the other end of the table.
We expect hearing loss as we age, but some believe it is happening more and more to younger adults – and even kids.
Listening to music has been a part of Debra Smith's life since she was growing up in Iowa.
"When I would come in the house, my mom always had the radio on," Smith said. "We would sing along to music."
Smith went to many live concerts that continued to have an impact on her even after she left the venues.
"I had ringing in my ears for two days, and I could not hear anything after these concerts," Smith said. "Rock music was definitely on the radar."
Later on in life, Smith started having issues with hearing televisions, music and her friends talking.
"I would say, 'What did you say? What do you mean?'" Smith said. "It was very obvious to me the others could hear, but I couldn't."
Dr. Jill Davis is an audiologist in Austin. She said people in the 65 to 80 age range, like Smith, have seen an uptick in hearing issues.
"Probably my biggest population is going to be the 'Woodstock Generation,'" Dr. Davis said. "They're starting to notice some problems."
According to a new survey, 47% of the Woodstock Generation who said they listened to loud or very loud music in their youth are now report hearing loss.
Dr. Davis also said she believes hearing loss could be even worse as kids today grow up.
"We're seeing kids around 16 years old coming in with tinnitus and buzzing, which is the first sign of hearing loss," Dr. Davis said.
She is starting to see more young patients than she saw in previous years. She said it's in large part because of headphones.
"The closer to the ear, the louder it would be," Davis said. "We don't have any regulation for how loud we can make those headphones."
While Smith said she is happy to have her hearing aids, she hopes younger people can learn from her mistakes.
"It's just a gift that you have to be able to hear," Dr. Davis said. "Once the damage starts, there's no taking it back."
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