In spite of common belief, hearing loss isn’t 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. The World Health Organization and the United Nations recommend that more than 1 billion people worldwide aged 12-35 are at risk of developing hearing loss. In children between the ages of 6 and 19, about 15% already have loss of hearing as reported by the CDC, and the number appears to be closer to 17% according to more recent research. Only 10 years ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower according to another study. What’s more, a study conducted by Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and estimates that by 2060 approximately 73 million people above the age of 65 will have hearing loss. 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 think about it as an inevitable outcome of aging. That’s the reason why you aren’t surprised when your grandmother uses a hearing aid. But at a younger and younger age, our hearing is being effected by changes of lifestyle.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. We are doing what we love to do: listening to music, chatting with friends, watching movies and using earbuds or headphones 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. Sometimes we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily exposing our ears to harmful levels of sound instead of safeguarding them.
There’s an entire generation of young people everywhere who are gradually damaging their ability to hear. That’s a huge problem, one that will cost billions of dollars in terms of treatment and loss of economic productivity.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Even young kids are usually wise enough to stay away from extremely loud noises. But it isn’t generally understood what hearing loss is about. The majority of people aren’t going to know that medium intensity noises can also damage your hearing if the exposure is long enough.
But hearing loss is normally associated with aging so the majority of people, especially young 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.
Because so many people use smart devices regularly, it’s a particularly extensive problem. That’s the reason why some hearing specialists have suggested answers that focus on providing mobile device users with additional information:
- It’s how long a sound persists, not only how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a specified decibel for too long).
- Alerts about high volume.
- Adjustments of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by employing built in parental control settings.
And that’s only the beginning. There are a lot of technological ways to get us to start paying more attention to the health of our hearing.
Reduce The Volume
If you reduce the volume of your mobile device it will be the most important way to minimize injury to your ears. 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 only kids. So we’ve got to come to terms with the fact that hearing loss is no longer associated with aging, it’s associated with technology.
That means we need to change the way we discuss, prevent, and treat hearing loss.
Also, decibel levels in your environment can be measured by app’s that you can download. 2 steps to protect your hearing. Making certain not to attempt to drown out loud noises with even louder noises and of course using ear protection. 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. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you have any questions.