More than 70 percent of young Australians show early signs of hearing loss, with loud music played through headphones believed to be a major cause, a survey released Tuesday showed.
The Australian Hearing survey found that tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, was more prevalent among 18 to 34-year-olds than elderly people, even though it is seen as one of the first signs of hearing loss.
The figures, based on a survey of 1,000 people, showed Australians who reported using headphones to listen to loud music or going to loud bars at least once a week were risking hearing loss, Australian Hearing said.
"Listening to loud music through headphones is thought to be more detrimental to hearing than other sources of leisure noise," Australian Hearing said.
"Despite this, more than two thirds of respondents said they listen to music through headphones regularly and 60 percent of these people often have the volume above safe levels."
It found that while the elderly were the most likely to experience hearing loss, the next most vulnerable group was teenagers.
Australian Hearing spokesman John D'Arcy said there were responsible steps people could take to minimise the risk of going deaf from loud music.
"Set the volume of your MP3 player at a level that allows you to hear someone at arm's length without them having to shout," he said.