In spite of common belief, hearing loss isn’t only an issue for older people. Overall hearing loss is becoming more prominent in spite of the fact that age is still a strong factor. Hearing loss remains at about 14-16% among 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 in danger of developing hearing loss. In children between 6 and 19, nearly 15% already have hearing loss according to the CDC, and the number appears to be closer to 17% based on current research. Other reports state that hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers over only a decade ago. Johns Hopkins conducted a study predicting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have loss of hearing. That’s an astounding increase over current numbers.
Why Are we Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age?
We usually think about hearing loss as a side effect of aging because it would develop slowly over years unless you spent extended amounts of time in a loud setting. This is the reason why when you’re grandfather uses a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. But changes in our lifestyle are impacting our hearing at a younger and younger age.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. We are doing what we like to do: watching movies, listening to music, chatting with friends and using earbuds or headphones for all of it. The issue is that we have no idea how loud (and for how long) is damaging to our ears. Occasionally 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.
Slowly but surely, an entire generation of young people are damaging their hearing. In terms of loss of productivity, that’s a huge problem and one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Even young children are usually wise enough to stay away from incredibly loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t popularly understood. It’s not generally known that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can damage hearing.
Of course, most people around the world, specifically young people, aren’t really thinking about the risks of hearing loss because they associate it with aging.
However, the WHO says irreversible ear damage may be occurring in those in this 12-35 age group.
Because so many people utilize smart devices regularly, it’s an especially extensive issue. That’s the reason why providing additional information to mobile device users has been a suggested solution by some hearing professionals:
- Warnings when you listen too long at a specific decibel level (it’s not only the volume of a sound that can lead to damage it’s how long the sound lasts).
- Built-in parental settings that let parents more closely supervise volume and adjust for hearing health.
- High-volume alerts.
And that’s only the start. There are a lot of technological methods to get us to begin to pay more attention to the well being of our hearing.
Turn Down The Volume
The most significant way to minimize damage to your ears is to reduce the volume of your mobile device. 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 just kids. So we have to understand 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. Making certain 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. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you have any questions.