In spite of common opinion, hearing loss isn’t only a problem for older people. Overall hearing loss is on the rise in spite of the fact that how old you are is still a strong factor. Hearing loss stays 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 hearing loss. In children between the ages of 6 and 19, around 15% already have hearing loss as reported by the CDC, and the number seems to be closer to 17% according to more recent research. Just a decade ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower as reported by another report. Johns Hopkins carried out 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?
It used to be that, if you didn’t spend your days in a loud and noisy surrounding, damage to your hearing would develop fairly slowly, so we consider it as an inevitable outcome of getting older. This is why when you’re grandfather uses a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. But changes in our way of life are impacting our hearing younger and younger.
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 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 taking steps to safeguard our ears, we often even use earbuds to drown out loud noise, purposely exposing our ears to harmful noise levels.
There’s an entire generation of young people around the world who are slowly but surely injuring their ability to hear. That’s a huge concern, one that’s going to cost billions of dollars in terms of treatment and loss of economic productivity.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Even young children are usually wise enough to avoid extremely loud noises. But it isn’t well understood what hearing loss is about. It’s not commonly recognized that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can injure hearing.
But hearing loss is commonly associated with aging so most people, particularly younger people, aren’t even concerned with it.
According to the WHO, individuals in this 12-35-year-old age group might be exposing their ears to permanent damage.
The problem is particularly widespread because so many of us are using smart devices on a regular basis. That’s why providing additional information to mobile device users has been a suggested answer by some hearing specialists:
- Warnings when you listen too long at a high decibel level (it’s not simply the volume of a sound that can cause damage it’s how long the noise persists).
- Warnings about high volume.
- Built-in parental settings that let parents more closely supervise volume and adjust for hearing health.
And that’s just the beginning. There are plenty of technological ways to get us to begin to pay more attention to the health of our hearing.
Reduce The Volume
If you decrease the volume of your mobile device it will be the most significant way to mitigate damage to your ears. Whether your 15, 35, or 70, that holds true.
And there is no arguing the fact that smartphones are not going away. It’s not only kids that are addicted to them, it’s everyone. So we’ve got to come to terms with the fact that loss of hearing is no longer associated with aging, it’s associated with technology.
Which means we’re going to need to change the way we talk about, prevent, and treat hearing loss.
Also, decibel levels in your environment can be measured by app’s that you can download. 2 steps to protect your hearing. Ear protection is one way but also making certain you’re not doing things like trying to drown out noises with even louder noises. As an 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 might already be at damaging levels. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional if you have any questions.