Hearing loss isn’t only 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 remains at around 14-16% amongst adults 20 to 69 years old. Globally, more than 1 billion people between the ages of 12-35 are at risk of developing hearing loss, according to the united nations and The World Health Organization. The CDC says roughly 15% of children between 6 and 19 currently have loss of hearing and the latest research indicates that that number is closer to 17%. Other reports say hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers from only 10 years ago. Even worse, a study from Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and forecasts that by 2060 about 73 million people above the age of 65 will have hearing loss. Over current numbers, that’s a staggering number.
We Are Getting Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
It used to be that, unless you spent your days in a loud and noisy environment, damage to your hearing would happen fairly slowly, so we consider it as a side effect of getting older. That’s the reason why you aren’t surprised when your grandfather wears a hearing aid. But at a younger and younger age, our hearing is being effected by changes of lifestyle.
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 enjoy doing and wearing earbuds to do it all. Most people have no idea what is a damaging 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 exposing our ears to harmful levels of sound instead of protecting them.
Slowly but surely, a whole generation of young people are harming their ears. 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 kids are usually wise enough to stay away from extremely loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t generally grasped. The majority of people won’t know 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, specifically young people, aren’t really concerned about the dangers of hearing loss because they think that it’s only an aging problem.
According to the WHO, those in this 12-35-year-old age group may be exposing their ears to irreversible damage.
Due to the fact that so many people utilize smart devices regularly, it’s an especially widespread issue. That’s why many hearing professionals have suggested solutions that focus on offering mobile device users with additional information:
- Adjustments of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by using built in parental control settings.
- Alerts about high volume.
- It’s how long a sound lasts, not just 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 ears, plenty of technological solutions exist.
Reduce The Volume
If you minimize the volume of your mobile device it will be the most important way to mitigate 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 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.
You should also try downloading an app that measures decibel levels in your environment. 2 steps to protect your hearing. Ear protection is one way but also making certain you’re not doing things like attempting to drown out noises with even louder noises. If you drive with the window down, for example, the noise from the wind and traffic could already be at a harmful level so don’t crank up the radio to drown it out. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, schedule a hearing exam.