In spite of common belief, hearing loss is not just an issue for older people. While age is a strong predictor of hearing loss, overall 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 recommend that more than 1 billion people worldwide aged 12-35 are in danger of getting hearing loss. In children between 6 and 19, about 15% already have hearing loss according to the CDC, and the number seems to be closer to 17% based on current research. Other reports say hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers from just 10 years ago. Johns Hopkins performed a study predicting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have hearing loss. That’s an astounding increase over current numbers.
Why Are we Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age?
We tend to think about hearing loss as a side effect of aging as it would develop slowly over years unless you spent extended amounts of time in a loud environment. 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 it’s talking to friends, listening to music, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we love to do and using earbuds for all of it. The problem is that we have no idea how loud (and for how long) is damaging to our hearing. 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 a whole generation of young people around the world who are gradually damaging their ability to hear. That’s a big problem, one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment and loss of productivity in the economy.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Even young kids are usually smart enough to stay away from incredibly loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t generally grasped. The majority of people won’t know that medium intensity sounds can also damage your hearing if exposed for longer time periods.
But hearing loss is normally associated with aging so most people, particularly younger people, don’t even think about it.
However, the WHO says irreversible ear damage could be occurring in those in this 12-35 age group.
Options And Recommendations
Due to the fact that so many people utilize smart devices frequently, it’s a particularly extensive problem. That’s why providing additional information to mobile device users has been a recommended solution by some hearing specialists:
- It’s how long a sound lasts, not just how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a specified decibel for too long).
- Alerts about high volume.
- Adjustments 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.
Turn The Volume Down
If you decrease the volume of your mobile device it will be the most important way to mitigate 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 only kids. So we have to understand 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.
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 certain you’re not doing things such as 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. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, come talk to us.