In spite of common belief, hearing loss is not only a problem for older people. 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. The World Health Organization and the United Nations suggests that more than 1 billion people globally aged 12-35 are in danger of getting loss of hearing. The CDC states that roughly 15% of children between 6 and 19 currently have loss of hearing and more recent 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. Even worse, a study conducted by Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and estimates that by 2060 about 73 million people above the age of 65 will have hearing loss. Over current numbers, that’s a staggering number.
What’s Causing Us to Develop Hearing Loss at a Younger Age?
In the past, if you didn’t spend your days in a loud and noisy environment, damage to your hearing would happen fairly slowly, so we consider it as an inevitable outcome of aging. That’s the reason why you aren’t surprised when your grandmother uses a hearing aid. But changes in our way of life are affecting our hearing at a younger and younger age.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. We are doing what we like to do: watching movies, listening to music, chatting with friends and using earbuds or headphones 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 problematic. Occasionally we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily exposing our ears to damaging levels of sound instead of protecting them.
Gradually, an entire generation of young people are damaging their ears. 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 sensible enough to avoid incredibly loud noises. But it isn’t popularly understood what hearing loss is about. The majority of people won’t recognize that medium intensity noises can also damage your hearing if exposed for longer time periods.
Of course, most people around the world, particularly young people, aren’t really thinking about the hazards of hearing loss because they associate it with aging.
However, the WHO says permanent ear damage might be occurring in those in this 12-35 age group.
Due to the fact that so many people utilize smart devices frequently, it’s a particularly extensive problem. That’s why many hearing professionals have recommended answers that focus on providing mobile device users with additional information:
- Built-in parental settings which allow parents to more closely supervise volume and adjust for hearing health.
- Alerts about high volume.
- It’s how long a sound persists, not just how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a specific decibel level for too long).
And that’s just the beginning. Paying more attention to the health of our ears, many technological possibilities exist.
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.
Let’s be honest, smartphones aren’t going anywhere. Everyone uses them all the time, not just kids. So we have to recognize 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.
Also, decibel levels in your environment can be measured by app’s that you can download. 2 steps to protect your hearing. Making certain not to try to drown out loud noises with even louder noises and of course using ear protection. For example, if you drive with your windows down, don’t turn 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 professional if you have any questions.