Hearing loss isn’t just a problem for the elderly, in spite of the common idea. In general hearing loss is on the rise despite the fact that age is still a strong factor. 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 globally age 12-35 are at risk of getting hearing loss. In children between the ages of 6 and 19, around 15% already have loss of hearing according to the CDC, and the number appears to be closer to 17% based on current research. Other reports say hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers over just a decade ago. Johns Hopkins performed a study projecting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have loss of hearing. Over current numbers, that’s a staggering number.
What’s Causing Us to Develop Hearing Loss at a Younger Age?
We usually think about hearing loss as a side effect of aging as it would develop slowly over years unless you spent extended amounts of time in a loud setting. That’s why you aren’t surprised when your grandmother uses 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. We are doing what we enjoy doing: listening to music, chatting with friends, watching movies and using earbuds or headphones for all of it. Most people have no clue what is a damaging sound level or how long it takes to do damage and that’s an issue. 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, a whole generation of young people are damaging their hearing. In terms of loss of productivity, that’s a big problem and one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Keeping away from very loud sounds is something that even young children are generally smart enough to do. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t generally understood. Most people aren’t going to recognize that medium intensity sounds can also damage your hearing if exposed for longer time periods.
But hearing loss is commonly associated with aging so the majority of people, specifically young people, aren’t even concerned with it.
However, the WHO says irreversible ear damage might be happening to those in this 12-35 age group.
Options And Suggestions
Because so many people utilize smart devices frequently, it’s an especially widespread problem. That’s the reason why some hearing specialists have recommended answers that focus on offering mobile device users with additional information:
- Warnings when you listen too long at a high decibel level (it’s not just the volume of a sound that can result in damage it’s how long the sound persists).
- Adjustments of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by using built in parental control settings.
- Warnings about high volume.
And that’s just the beginning. Paying more attention to the health of our ears, many technological possibilities exist.
Turn Down The Volume
If you decrease the volume of your mobile device it will be the most important way to minimize damage to your ears. Whether your 15, 35, or 70, that holds true.
Let’s be honest, smartphones aren’t going anywhere. It’s not only kids that are addicted to them, it’s everyone. So we have to recognize that hearing loss has as much to do with technology as it does with aging.
Which means we need to change the way we talk about, 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. Making sure not to try to drown out loud noises with even louder noises and of course using ear protection. If you drive with the window down, for instance, the noise from the wind and traffic might already be at a damaging level so don’t crank up the radio to drown it out. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, come talk to us.