Hearing loss isn’t simply an issue for the elderly, in spite of the prevalent belief. While age is a reliable predictor of hearing loss, overall hearing loss has been rising. Amongst adults aged 20 to 69 loss of hearing hovers in the 14-16% range. The World Health Organization and the United Nations suggests that more than 1 billion people worldwide age 12-35 are at risk of developing loss of hearing. The CDC states that nearly 15% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 already have loss of hearing and the latest research indicates that that number is closer to 17%. Other reports state that hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers over just 10 years ago. Johns Hopkins conducted 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?
In the past, unless you spent your days in a loud and noisy environment, damage to your hearing would develop rather slowly, so we think about it as a side effect of getting older. This is why when you’re grandmother uses a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. 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 you’re chatting with friends, listening to music, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we enjoy doing and using earbuds to do it all. The problem is that we have no clue what level of volume (and what duration of that volume) is harmful to our hearing. Instead of doing our best to safeguard our ears, we even regularly use earbuds to drown out loud sound, purposely exposing our ears to dangerous sound levels.
There’s an entire generation of young people everywhere who are gradually damaging their hearing. That’s a big problem, one that’s going to cost billions of dollars in terms of treatment and loss of economic productivity.
Loss of hearing is Misunderstood
Even young kids are usually wise enough to avoid incredibly loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t popularly understood. The majority of people won’t know that medium intensity sounds can also damage your hearing if exposed for longer time periods.
Needless to say, most people around the world, particularly young people, aren’t really concerned about the hazards of hearing loss because they associate it with aging.
However, the WHO says permanent ear damage could be happening to those in this 12-35 age group.
Options And Suggestions
The issue is especially widespread because so many of us are using smart devices on a regular basis. That’s the reason why providing additional information to mobile device users has been a recommended solution by some hearing professionals:
- Extreme-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).
- Modifications of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by using built in parental control settings.
And that’s only the beginning. There are plenty of technological ways to get us to start paying more attention to the well being of our hearing.
Reduce The Volume
If you reduce the volume of your mobile device it will be the most significant way to minimize injury to your ears. Whether your 15, 35, or 70, that holds true.
After all, smartphones aren’t going anywhere. Everyone uses them all the time, not just kids. So we’ve got to deal with the fact that loss of hearing is no longer linked to aging, it’s associated with technology.
Which means we’re going to need to change the way we talk about, 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. Ear protection is one way but also making sure you’re not doing things such as attempting to drown out noises with even louder noises. 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 could already be at damaging levels. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you have any questions.