In spite of popular belief, hearing loss isn’t only a problem for older people. Overall hearing loss is becoming more prominent despite the fact that how old you are is still a strong factor. 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 at risk of developing hearing loss, as reported by the united nations and The World Health Organization. In children between the ages of 6 and 19, about 15% already have loss of hearing according to the CDC, and the number appears to be closer to 17% based on more recent research. Just a decade ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower according to another report. Worse still, a study from Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and estimates that by 2060 about 73 million people above the age of 65 will have loss of hearing. That’s a staggering increase over current numbers.
What’s Causing Us to Develop Hearing Loss Earlier?
We usually consider hearing loss as a side effect of aging as it would progress slowly over years unless you spent extended amounts of time in a loud environment. That’s the reason why you aren’t surprised when your grandmother wears a hearing aid. 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. Whether it’s chatting with friends, listening to tunes, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we enjoy doing and wearing earbuds to do it all. The problem is that we have no idea what level of volume (and what duration of that volume) is damaging to our hearing. Instead of doing our best to protect our ears, we even regularly use earbuds to drown out loud noise, voluntarily subjecting our ears to dangerous noise levels.
Little by little, a whole generation of young people are damaging their hearing. That’s a huge problem, 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 extremely loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t commonly grasped. It’s not generally recognized that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can damage hearing.
But hearing loss is commonly associated with aging so the majority of people, particularly younger people, aren’t even concerned with it.
According to the WHO, people in this 12-35-year-old age group may be exposing their ears to irreversible damage.
Options And Suggestions
Due to the fact that so many people use smart devices regularly, it’s an especially widespread issue. That’s the reason why offering additional information to mobile device users has been a suggested answer by some hearing specialists:
- It’s how long a sound lasts, not just how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a specific decibel level for too long).
- Warnings about high volume.
- Modifications of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by using built in parental control settings.
And that’s only the beginning. There are a lot of technological methods to get us to start paying more attention to the well being of our hearing.
Turn The Volume Down
The most important way to mitigate injury to your ears is to reduce the volume at which you listen to your mobile device. Whether your 15, 35, or 70, that holds true.
And there is no arguing the fact that smartphones are not going away. Everyone uses them all the time, not just kids. So we have to deal with the fact that hearing loss is no longer linked to 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.
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 like attempting to drown out noises with even louder noises. For instance, if you drive with your windows down, don’t crank up the music to hear it better, the noise from the wind and traffic could already be at harmful levels. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, come talk to us.