Hearing loss isn’t simply a problem for older people, despite the common belief. While age is a reliable predictor of hearing loss, as a whole hearing loss has been on the rise. 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, according to the united nations and The World Health Organization. In children between 6 and 19, nearly 15% already have hearing loss as reported by the CDC, and the number appears to be closer to 17% according to current research. Other reports say hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers over just a decade ago. Johns Hopkins performed a study predicting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have loss of hearing. Over current numbers, that’s an astounding number.
What’s Causing Us to Develop Hearing Loss Earlier?
We usually 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 noisy setting. This is why when you’re grandmother uses a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. 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. Whether it’s chatting with friends, listening to tunes, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we enjoy doing and using earbuds for all of it. Most people have no idea what is a damaging volume or how long it takes to do damage and that’s problematic. Sometimes we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily subjecting our ears to damaging levels of sound instead of protecting them.
There’s an entire generation of young people around the world who are gradually damaging their hearing. In terms of loss of productivity, that’s a big concern and one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Even young children are usually smart enough to stay away from incredibly loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t commonly understood. It’s not usually recognized that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can damage hearing.
But hearing loss is generally associated with aging so most people, especially young people, don’t even think about it.
According to the WHO, individuals in this 12-35-year-old age group may be exposing their ears to permanent damage.
Options And Suggestions
The issue is especially widespread because so many of us are using smart devices on a regular basis. That’s the reason why providing additional information to mobile device users has been a suggested solution by some hearing professionals:
- Warnings about high volume.
- Warnings when you listen too long at a high 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 controls that let parents more closely supervise volume and adjust for hearing health.
And that’s only the beginning. Paying more attention to the health of our hearing, plenty of technological solutions exist.
Turn The Volume Down
If you reduce the volume of your mobile device it will be the most significant way to minimize damage to your ears. That’s true whether you’re 15, 35, or 70.
And there is no arguing the fact that smartphones are not going away. Everyone uses them all the time, not only kids. So we have to come to terms with the fact that loss of hearing is no longer linked to aging, it’s associated with technology.
Which means we need to change the way we talk about, prevent, and deal with 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 sure not to attempt to drown out loud noises with even louder noises and of course wearing ear protection. If you drive with the window down, for instance, the noise from the wind and traffic might already be at a harmful level so don’t crank up the radio to drown it out. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional if you have any questions.