Loss of hearing isn’t simply an issue for older people, in spite of the common belief. While age is a strong predictor of hearing loss, as a whole hearing loss has been rising. Among adults aged 20 to 69 loss of hearing stays in the 14-16% range. Globally, more than 1 billion people between 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 appears to be closer to 17% based on current research. Only 10 years ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower as reported by another study. Even worse, a study from Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and forecasts that by 2060 around 73 million people over the age of 65 will have hearing loss. That’s a staggering increase over current numbers.
What’s Causing Us to Develop Hearing Loss at a Younger Age?
In the past, unless you spent your days in a loud and noisy surrounding, damage to your hearing would happen relatively slowly, so we consider it as an inevitable outcome of aging. That’s why you aren’t surprised when your grandfather wears a hearing aid. But changes in our way of life are affecting our hearing younger and younger.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. Whether it’s chatting with friends, listening to music, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we love to do and using earbuds to do it all. The issue is that we have no idea how loud (and for how long) is damaging to our ears. Instead of taking steps to protect our ears, we even regularly use earbuds to drown out loud noise, purposely exposing our ears to hazardous sound levels.
Slowly but surely, an entire generation of young people are harming 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?
Even young children are usually wise enough to avoid extremely loud noises. But it isn’t well understood what hearing loss is about. It’s not usually recognized that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can damage hearing.
Needless to say, the majority of people around the world, particularly young people, aren’t really concerned about the dangers of hearing loss because they think that it’s only an aging problem.
However, the WHO says permanent ear damage could be happening to those in this 12-35 age group.
The issue is especially widespread because so many of us are using smart devices regularly. That’s the reason why some hearing specialists have suggested answers that focus on offering mobile device users with additional information:
- Built-in parental settings which allow parents to more closely supervise volume and adjust for hearing health.
- Warnings about high volume.
- 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. Paying more attention to the health of our hearing, plenty of technological solutions exist.
Reduce The Volume
The most significant way to mitigate injury 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 deal with the fact that loss of hearing is no longer associated with aging, it’s associated with technology.
Which means we’re going to need to change the way we discuss, 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 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 may already be at a harmful level so don’t turn up the radio to drown it out. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, come talk to us.