Loss of hearing isn’t just an issue for the elderly, despite the common belief. While age is a strong predictor of hearing loss, overall hearing loss has been rising. Hearing loss stays at around 14-16% among adults 20 to 69 years old. World wide, more than 1 billion people from the ages of 12-35 are in danger of developing hearing loss, according to the united nations and The World Health Organization. The CDC states that nearly 15% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 currently have hearing loss and more recent research indicates that that number is closer to 17%. Other reports say hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers from only a decade ago. Johns Hopkins conducted 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 Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
It used to be that, unless you spent your days in a loud and noisy surrounding, damage to your hearing would happen relatively slowly, so we think about it as an inevitable outcome of getting older. That’s the reason why you aren’t surprised when your grandmother wears a hearing aid. But changes in our lifestyle are affecting our hearing younger and younger.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. We are doing what we love to do: listening to music, chatting with friends, watching movies and wearing earbuds or headphones for all of it. Most people have no idea what is a damaging volume or how long it takes to do damage and that’s a problem. Instead of doing our best to safeguard our ears, we often even use earbuds to drown out loud noise, purposely exposing our ears to harmful noise levels.
There’s a whole generation of young people around the world who are slowly but surely damaging their ability to hear. That’s a huge concern, one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment and loss of economic productivity.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Even young children are usually wise enough to stay away from incredibly loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t generally understood. It’s not generally recognized that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can damage hearing.
But hearing loss is generally associated with aging so the majority of people, specifically young people, don’t even think about it.
However, the WHO says permanent ear damage could be happening to those in this 12-35 age group.
Solutions And Suggestions
The problem is particularly widespread because so many of us are using smart devices regularly. That’s the reason why many hearing professionals have recommended answers that focus on offering mobile device users with additional information:
- Built-in parental settings which let parents more closely monitor volume and adjust for hearing health.
- Extreme-volume warnings.
- Warnings when you listen too long at a specific decibel level (it’s not just the volume of a sound that can cause damage it’s how long the sound persists).
And that’s only the start. Paying more attention to the health of our ears, many technological possibilities exist.
Turn The Volume Down
The most important way to mitigate damage to your hearing is to minimize the volume at which you listen to your mobile device. That’s true whether you’re 15, 35, or 70.
And there is no arguing the fact that smartphones are not going away. 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.
Which means we need to change the way we talk about, 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. Ear protection is one way but also making sure you’re not doing things such as attempting to drown out noises with even louder noises. 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 may already be at damaging levels. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, schedule a hearing exam.