In spite of popular opinion, hearing loss isn’t only a problem for the elderly. While age is a strong predictor of hearing loss, overall hearing loss has been on the rise. Hearing loss stays at around 14-16% among adults 20 to 69 years old. World wide, more than 1 billion people between the ages of 12-35 are in danger of getting hearing loss, as reported by the united nations and The World Health Organization. In children between the ages of 6 and 19, around 15% already have loss of hearing according to the CDC, and the number seems to be closer to 17% based on more recent research. Other reports state that hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers from only 10 years ago. Johns Hopkins performed a study predicting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have loss of hearing. That’s a staggering increase over current numbers.
We Are Getting Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
We usually think about hearing loss as a result of aging because it would develop slowly over years unless you spent extended amounts of time in a noisy setting. That’s why you aren’t surprised when your grandmother wears a hearing aid. But changes in our lifestyle 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 enjoy doing and wearing earbuds for all of it. The issue is that we have no idea what level of volume (and what duration of that volume) is damaging to our hearing. Sometimes we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily subjecting our ears to harmful levels of sound instead of protecting them.
There’s an entire generation of young people everywhere who are gradually injuring their hearing. That’s a huge concern, one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment and loss of economic productivity.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Even young children are usually wise enough to avoid extremely loud noises. But it isn’t popularly understood what hearing loss is about. The majority of people won’t 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, especially young people, aren’t even concerned with it.
However, the WHO says permanent ear damage may be happening to those in this 12-35 age group.
The issue is particularly widespread because so many of us are using smart devices regularly. That’s why providing additional information to mobile device users has been a recommended solution by some hearing experts:
- Alterations of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by employing built in parental control settings.
- High-volume alerts.
- It’s how long a sound lasts, not only how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a particular decibel level for too long).
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.
Turn The Volume Down
The most significant way to mitigate injury to your ears is to decrease the volume at which you listen to 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 realize 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 sure not to attempt to drown out loud noises with even louder noises and of course wearing ear protection. For 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 may already be at harmful levels. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional if you have any questions.