In spite of common belief, hearing loss isn’t just a problem for older people. Overall hearing loss is on the rise despite the fact that age is still a strong factor. Hearing loss remains at around 14-16% amongst adults 20 to 69 years old. World wide, more than 1 billion people between the ages of 12-35 are at risk 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 hearing loss as reported by the CDC, and the number appears to be closer to 17% based on more recent research. Other reports state that hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers over just 10 years ago. Johns Hopkins conducted a study projecting 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?
It used to be that, 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. That’s why you aren’t surprised when your grandfather wears a hearing aid. 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. We are doing what we enjoy doing: listening to music, chatting with friends, watching movies and wearing earbuds or headphones for all of it. The problem is that we have no idea what level of volume (and what duration of that volume) is harmful to our ears. Occasionally we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily subjecting our ears to damaging levels of sound instead of protecting them.
Slowly but surely, a whole generation of young people are damaging their hearing. That’s a big problem, one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment and loss of economic productivity.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Avoiding extremely loud sounds is something that even young kids are generally sensible enough to do. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t popularly grasped. Most people aren’t going to recognize that medium intensity sounds can also damage your hearing if exposed for longer time periods.
Needless to say, most people around the world, specifically young people, aren’t really thinking about the risks of hearing loss because they think that it’s only an aging problem.
According to the WHO, people in this 12-35-year-old age group could be exposing their ears to permanent damage.
Solutions And Suggestions
Because so many people use smart devices regularly, it’s an especially widespread issue. That’s why providing additional information to mobile device users has been a recommended answer by some hearing experts:
- It’s how long a sound lasts, not just how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a specified decibel level for too long).
- Warnings about high volume.
- Built-in parental settings that allow parents to more closely monitor volume and adjust for hearing health.
And that’s only the beginning. There are a lot of technological ways to get us to start paying more attention to the well being of our hearing.
Turn Down The Volume
If you decrease the volume of your mobile device it will be the most important way to mitigate 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’ve got to deal with the fact that loss of hearing is no longer associated with aging, it’s associated with technology.
Which means we’re going to need to change the way we discuss, prevent, and deal with 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 trying to drown out noises with even louder noises. For 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 may already be at harmful levels. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you have any questions.