In spite of common belief, hearing loss is not only a problem for seniors. While age is a reliable predictor of hearing loss, as a whole hearing loss has been on the rise. Amongst adults aged 20 to 69 hearing loss stays in the 14-16% range. The World Health Organization and the United Nations suggests that more than 1 billion people globally age 12-35 are in danger of developing hearing loss. In children between the ages of 6 and 19, about 15% already have loss of hearing as reported by the CDC, and the number seems to be closer to 17% according to more recent research. Only a decade ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower as reported by another report. Johns Hopkins performed a study projecting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have loss of hearing. Over current numbers, that’s an astounding number.
We Are Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
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 environment. That’s the reason why you aren’t surprised when your grandfather uses 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 tunes, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we enjoy doing and wearing earbuds to do it all. Most people have no clue what is a harmful sound level or how long it takes to do damage and that’s an issue. Instead of doing our best to protect our ears, we even regularly use earbuds to drown out loud noise, voluntarily exposing our ears to hazardous noise levels.
Little by little, an entire generation of young people are harming their hearing. In terms of loss of productivity, that’s a huge problem and one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment.
Loss of hearing is Not Well Understood
Even young children are usually wise enough to stay away from incredibly loud noises. But it isn’t popularly understood what hearing loss is about. It’s not usually recognized that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can injure hearing.
Needless to say, the majority of people around the world, specifically young people, aren’t really thinking about the risks of hearing loss because they associate it with aging.
According to the WHO, individuals in this 12-35-year-old age group might be exposing their ears to permanent damage.
Options And Recommendations
The problem is especially widespread because so many of us are using smart devices regularly. That’s the reason why providing additional information to mobile device users has been a suggested answer by some hearing professionals:
- Modifications of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by using built in parental control settings.
- It’s how long a sound lasts, not just how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a specific decibel level for too long).
- Warnings about high volume.
And that’s just the start. There are a lot of technological ways to get us to begin to pay more attention to the well being of our hearing.
Turn The Volume Down
The most important way to minimize 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 arguing the fact that smartphones are not going away. Everyone uses them all the time, not only kids. So we’ve got to deal with the fact that hearing loss is no longer linked to aging, it’s associated with technology.
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. Making sure not to try to drown out loud noises with even louder noises and of course wearing ear protection. If you drive with the window down, for example, the noise from the wind and traffic may already be at a harmful level so don’t crank up the radio to drown it out. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional if you have any questions.