Hearing loss on the rise for younger generations

KENNEWICK, WA - It's getting harder to hear for many people. A new survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 20% of people in their 20s have some level of hearing loss and they don't even know it.

Zach Hubbard is a senior at Kamiakin High School. At just 17-years-old a target shooting incident left him with lifelong damage.

"I wasn't able to put on adequate protection before they started firing next to me," said Zach. "It really dulled my hearing. I couldn't hear out of it for two weeks."

He did eventually get it checked out.

"I did this test and they said I had low frequency and high frequency noises that were missing from my left ear," said Zach. "I expected it, but it was also kind of shocking to be told that part of my hearing is gone."

However Zach is far from alone, according to that survey.

"I think it was around 24% of participants who thought they had good or excellent hearing, in reality had a minimal or even more significant loss," said Dr. Shannon Aiello at Columbia Basin Hearing Center.

Like Zach, most people aren't losing their hearing on the job anymore.

"These are people that every day sounds we're exposed to," said Dr. Aiello. "How many people have gone to a loud concert, how many people mow the lawn, how many people use a leaf blower?"

For the 20% of people in their 20s (and younger) who already have some hearing loss, don't expect it to get any better.

"Definitely with Zach, he's so young and his ears have his whole life to endure and then just hearing loss due to age. So he's already behind the eight ball a little bit because there is some damage," said Dr. Aiello.

Also, why not take it from Zach - he's wise beyond his years.

"Make sure that you definitely have adequate hearing protection. Always over compensate because once it's gone, it's gone," said Zach.

Ear buds are another issue for young people today. Dr. Aiello said if you can hear the music from an arm's length away, it's too loud.

Some signs of hearing loss including ringing and/or pain in the ears, having to often ask for people to repeat themselves and having to keep the TV volume up very high.