In spite of popular belief, hearing loss isn’t just a problem for older people. In general hearing loss is on the rise despite the fact that how old you are is still a strong factor. Hearing loss stays at about 14-16% among adults 20 to 69 years old. Globally, more than 1 billion people from the ages of 12-35 are at risk of developing hearing loss, according to the united nations and The World Health Organization. In children between the ages of 6 and 19, about 15% already have hearing loss according to the CDC, and the number seems to be closer to 17% according to more recent research. Other reports state that hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers over only a decade ago. Johns Hopkins performed a study projecting 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 surrounding, damage to your hearing would happen rather slowly, so we think about it as an inevitable outcome of aging. This is why when you’re grandfather uses a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. But at a younger and younger age, our hearing is being effected by changes of ways of life.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. Whether you’re talking to friends, listening to music, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we enjoy doing and wearing earbuds to do it all. The issue is that we have no idea what level of volume (and what duration of that volume) is damaging to our ears. Sometimes we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily subjecting our ears to harmful levels of sound instead of protecting them.
Slowly but surely, an entire generation of young people are damaging their hearing. That’s a huge problem, one that will cost billions of dollars in terms of treatment and loss of productivity in the economy.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Keeping away from extremely loud noises is something that even young kids are usually smart enough to do. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t generally grasped. It’s not usually known that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can injure hearing.
But hearing loss is generally associated with aging so most people, specifically young people, aren’t even concerned with it.
However, the WHO says irreversible ear damage might be happening to those in this 12-35 age group.
Solutions And Recommendations
The issue is particularly widespread because so many of us are using smart devices regularly. That’s the reason why many hearing professionals have suggested solutions that focus on providing mobile device users with additional information:
- Alterations of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by using built in parental control settings.
- High-volume warnings.
- Warnings when you listen too long at a high decibel level (it’s not just the volume of a sound that can result in damage it’s how long the sound lasts).
And that’s just the start. Paying more attention to the health of our hearing, plenty of technological solutions exist.
Reduce The Volume
If you minimize the volume of your mobile device it will be the most important way to minimize injury to your ears. That’s true whether you’re 15, 35, or 70.
And there is no disputing the fact that smartphones are not going away. Everyone uses them all the time, not just kids. So we’ve got to come to terms with the fact that hearing loss is no longer associated with aging, it’s associated with technology.
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 like attempting to drown out noises with even louder noises. If you drive with the window down, for example, the noise from the wind and traffic could already be at a damaging level so don’t crank up the radio to drown it out. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, come talk to us.