In spite of popular opinion, hearing loss is not only a problem for older people. While age is a reliable predictor of hearing loss, as a whole hearing loss has been rising. Hearing loss stays at around 14-16% amongst adults 20 to 69 years old. World wide, more than 1 billion people from the ages of 12-35 are in danger of developing hearing loss, as reported by the united nations and The World Health Organization. The CDC says roughly 15% of children between 6 and 19 already 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. Worse still, a study from Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and forecasts that by 2060 approximately 73 million people above the age of 65 will have loss of hearing. Over current numbers, that’s a staggering number.
We Are Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
We usually think about hearing loss as a result of aging as it would develop slowly over years unless you spent extended amounts of time in a loud setting. That’s the reason why you aren’t surprised when your grandfather wears a hearing aid. 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. We are doing what we love to do: chatting with friends, listening to music, watching movies and using earbuds or headphones to do it all. The issue is that we have no clue how loud (and for how long) is harmful to our hearing. Sometimes we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily exposing our ears to damaging levels of sound instead of safeguarding them.
Slowly but surely, an entire generation of young people are harming their ears. In terms of loss of productivity, that’s a huge problem and one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment.
Hearing Loss is Not Well Understood
Even young children are usually wise enough to avoid extremely loud noises. But it isn’t widely understood what hearing loss is about. It’s not usually known that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can harm hearing.
But hearing loss is generally associated with aging so the majority of people, particularly younger people, aren’t even concerned with it.
However, the WHO says permanent ear damage could be occurring in those in this 12-35 age group.
Options And Suggestions
The issue is particularly widespread because so many of us are using smart devices on a regular basis. That’s why many hearing professionals have recommended solutions that focus on offering mobile device users with additional information:
- Warnings about high volume.
- Built-in parental settings which allow parents to more closely supervise volume and adjust for hearing health.
- It’s how long a sound lasts, not only how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a particular decibel for too long).
And that’s just the beginning. There are plenty of technological ways to get us to begin to pay more attention to the health of our hearing.
Reduce The Volume
The most significant way to minimize injury to your ears is to decrease the volume of your mobile device. Whether your 15, 35, or 70, that holds true.
And there is no disputing the fact that smartphones are not going away. Everyone uses them all the time, not just kids. So we have to come to terms with the fact that hearing loss is no longer linked to aging, it’s associated with technology.
That means the way we prevent, treat, and talk about hearing loss has to change.
Also, decibel levels in your environment can be measured by app’s that you can download. 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 could already be at damaging levels. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, schedule a hearing exam.