Despite common opinion, hearing loss is not just a problem for the elderly. In general hearing loss is on the rise in spite of the fact that age is still a strong factor. Hearing loss stays at around 14-16% among adults 20 to 69 years of age. World wide, more than 1 billion people from the ages of 12-35 are in danger of getting hearing loss, as reported by the united nations and The World Health Organization. In children between 6 and 19, about 15% already have loss of hearing according to the CDC, and the number appears to be closer to 17% according to more recent research. Only 10 years ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower according to another report. Johns Hopkins conducted a study predicting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have loss of hearing. Over current numbers, that’s an astounding number.
We Are Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
We usually 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 noisy environment. That’s why you aren’t surprised when your grandmother wears a hearing aid. But at a younger and younger age, our hearing is being effected by changes of lifestyle.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. We are doing what we like to do: watching movies, listening to music, chatting with friends and wearing earbuds or headphones for all of it. The issue is that we have no clue how loud (and for how long) is harmful 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 protecting them.
There’s a whole generation of young people everywhere who are gradually injuring their ability to hear. That’s a big concern, one that will cost billions of dollars in terms of treatment and loss of productivity in the economy.
Hearing Loss is Not Well Understood
Avoiding very loud sounds is something that even young children are generally smart enough to do. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t commonly understood. The majority of people aren’t going to know that medium intensity noises can also damage your hearing if exposed for longer time periods.
But hearing loss is commonly associated with aging so most people, particularly younger people, aren’t even concerned with it.
However, the WHO says permanent ear damage may be occurring in those in this 12-35 age group.
Due to the fact that so many people utilize smart devices frequently, it’s an especially widespread issue. That’s the reason why offering additional information to mobile device users has been a recommended answer by some hearing experts:
- Built-in parental controls which let parents more closely supervise volume and adjust for hearing health.
- It’s how long a sound persists, not just how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a particular decibel for too long).
- High-volume alerts.
And that’s just the start. Paying more attention to the health of our hearing, many technological solutions exist.
Turn Down The Volume
If you reduce the volume of your mobile device it will be the most important way to minimize damage to your hearing. Whether your 15, 35, or 70, that holds true.
Let’s face it, smartphones aren’t going anywhere. Everyone uses them all the time, not just 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. Making sure not to attempt to drown out loud noises with even louder noises and of course wearing ear protection. For instance, 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, come talk to us.