Loss of hearing isn’t just an issue for the elderly, despite the prevalent belief. While age is a strong predictor of hearing loss, overall hearing loss has been rising. Hearing loss stays at around 14-16% amongst adults 20 to 69 years of age. World wide, more than 1 billion people between the ages of 12-35 are in danger of getting hearing loss, according to the united nations and The World Health Organization. The CDC says roughly 15% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 currently have hearing loss and the latest research puts that number closer to 17%. Other reports state that hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers from only a decade ago. Johns Hopkins performed a study predicting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have hearing loss. Over current numbers, that’s a staggering number.
What’s Causing Us to Develop Hearing Loss at a Younger Age?
We often consider hearing loss as a result of aging as it would develop slowly over years unless you spent extended time periods in a noisy environment. This is why when you’re grandmother uses a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. But changes in our lifestyle 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: chatting with friends, listening to music, watching movies and wearing earbuds or headphones for all of it. Most people have no clue what is a damaging volume or how long it takes to do damage and that’s problematic. Sometimes we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily subjecting our ears to harmful levels of sound instead of safeguarding them.
There’s an entire generation of young people around the world who are gradually damaging their ability to hear. That’s a big concern, one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment and loss of economic productivity.
Loss of hearing is Misunderstood
Even young kids are usually smart enough to avoid incredibly loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t generally understood. The majority of people won’t know that medium intensity noises can also damage your hearing if the exposure is long enough.
But hearing loss is generally associated with aging so the majority of people, especially younger people, don’t even think about it.
However, the WHO says permanent ear damage could be occurring in those in this 12-35 age group.
Because so many people use smart devices regularly, it’s an especially widespread problem. That’s the reason why providing additional information to mobile device users has been a suggested answer by some hearing experts:
- Alerts about high volume.
- It’s how long a sound lasts, not just how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a specified decibel level for too long).
- Alterations of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by employing built in parental control settings.
And that’s only the beginning. Paying more attention to the health of our hearing, many technological solutions exist.
Reduce The Volume
If you decrease the volume of your mobile device it will be the most important way to minimize injury to your ears. Whether your 15, 35, or 70, that holds true.
Let’s face it, smartphones aren’t going anywhere. 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.
Which means we’re going to need to change the way we discuss, prevent, and treat hearing loss.
You should also try downloading an app that measures decibel levels in your environment. 2 steps to protect your hearing. Making certain 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 instance, 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 specialist if you have any questions.