Hearing loss isn’t only an issue for older people, in spite of the prevalent idea. While age is a reliable predictor of hearing loss, as a whole hearing loss has been rising. Hearing loss remains at around 14-16% among adults 20 to 69 years of age. World wide, more than 1 billion people from the ages of 12-35 are at risk of getting hearing loss, according to 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% according to current research. Only a decade ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower according to another report. Johns Hopkins performed a study projecting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have hearing loss. Over current numbers, that’s a staggering number.
Why Are we Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age?
We often consider hearing loss as a result of aging because it would progress slowly over years unless you spent extended amounts of time in a noisy setting. That’s the reason 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. Whether it’s talking to friends, listening to music, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we love to do and wearing earbuds to do it all. Most people have no idea what is a harmful volume or how long it takes to do damage and that’s problematic. Occasionally 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 slowly but surely damaging their ability to hear. 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 smart enough to stay away from extremely loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t commonly understood. Most people won’t recognize that medium intensity noises can also damage your hearing if exposed for longer time periods.
Needless to say, the majority of people around the world, particularly young people, aren’t really thinking about the risks of hearing loss because they think that it’s only an aging problem.
However, the WHO says irreversible ear damage might be occurring in those in this 12-35 age group.
Because so many people use smart devices frequently, it’s a particularly widespread problem. That’s the reason why providing additional information to mobile device users has been a recommended solution by some hearing experts:
- 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.
- Built-in parental controls that let parents more closely monitor volume and adjust for hearing health.
And that’s only the start. Paying more attention to the health of our hearing, many technological solutions exist.
Reduce The Volume
The most significant way to mitigate damage to your hearing is to minimize the volume at which you listen to your mobile device. Whether your 15, 35, or 70, that holds true.
Let’s be honest, smartphones aren’t going anywhere. Everyone uses them all the time, not just kids. So we’ve got to come to terms with the fact that loss of hearing is no longer associated with aging, it’s associated with technology.
Which means we need to change the way we discuss, 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. Ear protection is one way but also making certain you’re not doing things such as trying to drown out noises with even louder noises. If you drive with the window down, for example, the noise from the wind and traffic might already be at a damaging level so don’t turn up the radio to drown it out. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you have any questions.