Hearing loss isn’t just a problem for older people, despite the common idea. While age is a reliable predictor of hearing loss, as a whole hearing loss has been on the rise. Hearing loss stays at around 14-16% among adults 20 to 69 years old. Globally, more than 1 billion people from the ages of 12-35 are at risk of getting hearing loss, according to the united nations and The World Health Organization. The CDC states that roughly 15% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 currently have loss of hearing and more recent research indicates that that number is closer to 17%. Only a decade ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower as reported by another study. Johns Hopkins carried out a study projecting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have loss of hearing. Over current numbers, that’s an astounding number.
We Are Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
In the past, unless you spent your days in a loud and noisy environment, damage to your hearing would happen fairly slowly, so we consider it as a side effect of aging. This is why when you’re grandmother uses a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. But at a younger and younger age, our hearing is being effected by changes of ways of life.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. Whether you’re chatting with friends, listening to music, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we enjoy doing and wearing earbuds to do it all. The issue is that we have no idea what level of volume (and what duration of that volume) is damaging to our ears. Occasionally we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily subjecting our ears to damaging levels of sound instead of protecting them.
Slowly but surely, a whole generation of young people are damaging their hearing. That’s a huge concern, one that will cost billions of dollars in terms of treatment and loss of economic productivity.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Avoiding extremely loud sounds is something that even young children are usually sensible enough to do. But it isn’t well understood what hearing loss is about. The majority of people aren’t going to know that medium intensity sounds can also damage your hearing if the exposure is long enough.
But hearing loss is commonly associated with aging so the majority of people, specifically younger people, aren’t even concerned with it.
However, the WHO says permanent ear damage might be occurring in those in this 12-35 age group.
Options And Recommendations
The problem is especially widespread because so many of us are using smart devices regularly. That’s why offering additional information to mobile device users has been a recommended answer by some hearing specialists:
- Warnings about high volume.
- It’s how long a sound lasts, not only how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a specific decibel level for too long).
- Alterations of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by using built in parental control settings.
And that’s only the beginning. Paying more attention to the health of our ears, plenty of technological possibilities exist.
Reduce The Volume
If you reduce the volume of your mobile device it will be the most important way to minimize injury to your hearing. That’s true whether you’re 15, 35, or 70.
Let’s face it, smartphones aren’t going anywhere. It’s not just kids that are addicted to them, it’s everyone. So we have to realize that hearing loss has as much to do with technology as it does with aging.
Which means we need to change the way we discuss, prevent, and deal with hearing loss.
You should also try downloading an app that measures decibel levels in your environment. 2 steps to protect your hearing. Ear protection is one way but also making certain you’re not doing things like trying to drown out noises with even louder noises. As an example, if you drive with your windows down, don’t crank up the music to hear it better, the noise from the wind and traffic might already be at harmful levels. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you have any questions.