In spite of popular belief, hearing loss is not just a problem for older people. While age is a strong predictor of hearing loss, as a whole hearing loss has been on the rise. Among adults aged 20 to 69 hearing loss hovers in the 14-16% range. Globally, more than 1 billion people between the ages of 12-35 are in danger of getting hearing loss, according to the united nations and The World Health Organization. The CDC says roughly 15% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 already have hearing loss and more recent research puts that number closer to 17%. Other reports state that hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers from just a decade ago. What’s more, a study from Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and forecasts that by 2060 around 73 million people above the age of 65 will have hearing loss. That’s a staggering increase over current numbers.
We Are Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
We tend to think about hearing loss as a result of aging as it would progress slowly over years unless you spent extended amounts of time in a loud environment. That’s why you aren’t surprised when your grandmother wears a hearing aid. But changes in our way of life are impacting our hearing younger and younger.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. Whether you’re chatting with friends, listening to tunes, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we love to do and wearing earbuds to do it all. The problem is that we have no clue what level of volume (and what duration of that volume) is harmful to our hearing. Occasionally we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily exposing our ears to damaging levels of sound instead of protecting them.
There’s a whole generation of young people everywhere who are slowly but surely injuring their ability to hear. That’s a big concern, one that’s going to cost billions of dollars in terms of treatment and loss of economic productivity.
Loss of hearing is Not Well Understood
Even young kids are usually wise enough to avoid extremely loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t widely grasped. The majority of people won’t know that medium intensity sounds can also damage your hearing if exposed for longer time periods.
Needless to say, the majority of people around the world, specifically young people, aren’t really thinking about the dangers of hearing loss because they think that it’s only an aging problem.
According to the WHO, people in this 12-35-year-old age group could be exposing their ears to permanent damage.
The issue is particularly widespread because so many of us are using smart devices on a regular basis. That’s the reason why offering additional information to mobile device users has been a recommended solution by some hearing experts:
- Warnings when you listen too long at a high decibel level (it’s not simply the volume of a sound that can lead to damage it’s how long the noise lasts).
- Adjustments of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by employing built in parental control settings.
- Warnings about high volume.
And that’s just the beginning. There are plenty of technological methods to get us to start paying more attention to the well being of our hearing.
Reduce The Volume
If you decrease 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.
And there is no disputing the fact that smartphones are not going away. Everyone uses them all the time, not only kids. So we have to recognize that hearing loss has as much to do with technology as it does with aging.
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 such as trying to drown out noises with even louder noises. As an example, if you drive with your windows down, don’t turn up the music to hear it better, the noise from the wind and traffic could already be at damaging levels. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you have any questions.