Noise-induced hearing loss: a modern epidemic?

Br J Hosp Med (Lond). 2017 May 2;78(5):286-290. doi: 10.12968/hmed.2017.78.5.286.


Hearing loss is an increasingly common problem in the UK, and noise-induced hearing loss is the second most common acquired cause. There is a greater burden on the younger population, as recreational noise exposure is an important contributor. New damaging hearing behaviours have emerged including loud music exposure at concerts, nightclubs and via personal music players. The mechanism of damage is thought to involve many diverse pathways, which include oxidative damage, mechanical shearing forces and glutamate excitotoxicity. Although no current treatment exists to reverse the damage caused, these pathways can be targeted by agents that are being trialled for use in post-exposure treatment and prevention, with conflicting results. Other preventative strategies are important in addressing damaging hearing behaviours, including 'safe listening' promotion with advocacy materials for young adults, and promoting safe listening devices.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ear Protective Devices*
  • Health Education
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / epidemiology*
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / prevention & control*
  • Hearing Tests
  • Humans
  • Music*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology