Hearing loss of any kind is horrendous and pretty avoidable, as long as you're listening to music reasonably. Though according to a new study titled Prevalence and global estimates of unsafe listening practices in adolescents and young adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis published in BMJ Global Health, a lot of folks between 12 and 34 years old aren't doing that.
The aforementioned study reviewed 33 different studies – 17 on the use of personal listening devices and 18 on live music venues – to determine that those "at risk of hearing loss from exposure to unsafe listening practices ranged from 0.67 to 1.35 billion."
"Unsafe listening practices are highly prevalent worldwide and may place over 1 billion young people at risk of hearing loss," reads the conclusion of the study. "There is an urgent need to prioritise policy focused on safe listening. The World Health Organization provides comprehensive materials to aid in policy development and implementation."
And really, it's not that hard to listen safely. Keep some foam earplugs in your jacket pocket or car glove compartment to have on hand for shows, don't blow your headphones out when listening, and maybe keep the car stereo down to at least a fairly reasonable volume. I totally get listening to death metal at max volume can be a massive adrenaline rush, but you're not gonna be able to keep getting it if you can't hear shit.
In a recent (unrelated but timely) video with the Hearing Health Foundation, Slipknot drummer Jay Weinberg also detailed his practices for playing live and going to shows. "For me personally, I don't go to a single show without wearing earplugs; I don't go on stage without wearing earplugs or in-ear monitors where I can hear myself and my bandmates. It's incredibly important, and if I had not worn earplugs and in-ear monitors from a young age, I might have done a tremendous amount of damage to my hearing.
"So I strongly encourage you, wear earplugs, do it the right way, do it intelligently. You can still rock out, you can still play the way you want to, and you’ll be able to play for the rest of your life. So take care of your ears, keep listening and head to HearingHealthFoundation.org."