May 3, 2024

How the World has Changed. And How it Hasn’t.

A world full of Noise

We’ve been writing our News Section for a long time. Over 10 years now in fact. And so occasionally we like to look back to read what we were writing about 5 years or 10 years ago and to see, perhaps, how the world has changed. We’ll be featuring a few of our ‘past posts’ over the next month and here’s one…

The Dangers of Passive Smoking

Back in 2013, we featured a new study that examined the potential link between passive smoking and hearing loss. Conducted by researchers at New York University and published in the Archives of Otolaryngology on May 10, 2013, the study shed light on an important health concern.

The research involved over 2000 teenagers aged 12 to 19. Participants underwent hearing tests and blood tests to detect cotinine, a by-product of nicotine. The results showed that those with high exposure to second-hand smoke were twice as likely to experience hearing loss caused by damage to the nerves in the inner ear compared to those not exposed. Alarmingly, 80% of those diagnosed with hearing loss were unaware of their condition.

Now, we’re certainly NOT saying that the dangers of passive smoking aren’t important. Many adults, children and young people are still exposed to the dangers of smoke inhalation, especially because of living with parents or guardians who smoke. But think how much less of an issue in daily life now are the dangers of passive smoking? Efforts in public awareness, regulations, and smoking cessation programs have led to a significant decrease in smoking rates. (The study’s findings remain relevant, of course, highlighting the ongoing importance of understanding the impact of passive smoking on our health).

So public health has taken a step forward. In terms of smoking at least. But one area where, we’d contended there’s been far less progress (especially concerning hearing) is regarding the damage we’re doing to our ears as a result of exposure to loud noise.

The Dangers of Noise

It seems we’re still just as addicted to loud sound, whether that’s via live music, cinemas, headphones or noisy pastimes as we ever were (especially when we’re young). And although the manufacturers of headphones may offer ‘safe listening advice’ the pushing of the loud sound drug shows very little chance of changing.

And while we’re on the subject of noise, the ambient noise levels in restaurants and public places remain as poor as ever with very little attention given to the sound design of spaces – easy to clean and highly sound reflective glass and marble still being the norm, and easier to instal. Without any thought to the well-being of those with challenges to their hearing.

We could go on! But, in conclusion, although perhaps we’re winning the war against smoke (although the jury is still very much out on vaping), the challenges of noise and getting the wider world to understand its importance, are still very much present in 2024. Perhaps when we revisit this post again in 10 years’ time, everything will have changed?