Despite common belief, hearing loss is not just a problem for older people. Overall hearing loss is on the rise despite the fact that how old you are is still a strong factor. Amongst adults aged 20 to 69 hearing loss stays in the 14-16% range. The World Health Organization and the United Nations recommend that more than 1 billion people worldwide age 12-35 are in danger of getting hearing loss. The CDC says roughly 15% of children between 6 and 19 currently have hearing loss and the latest research indicates that that number is closer to 17%. Other reports say hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers from only 10 years ago. What’s more, a study conducted by 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 hearing loss. Over current numbers, that’s a staggering number.
What’s Causing Us to Develop Hearing Loss Earlier?
It used to be that, if you didn’t spend your days in a loud and noisy environment, damage to your hearing would happen relatively slowly, so we think about it as a side effect of aging. This is the reason why when you’re grandfather wears 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 it’s talking to friends, listening to music, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we enjoy doing and using earbuds for all of it. The issue 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 exposing our ears to harmful levels of sound instead of safeguarding them.
There’s an entire generation of young people everywhere who are slowly but surely injuring their ability to hear. That’s a huge problem, one that’s going to cost billions of dollars in terms of treatment and loss of productivity in the economy.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Even young kids are usually wise enough to avoid extremely loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t generally grasped. The majority of people won’t recognize that medium intensity sounds can also damage your hearing if the exposure is long enough.
But hearing loss is commonly associated with aging so most people, specifically younger people, don’t even think about it.
However, the WHO says irreversible ear damage could be occurring in 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 why many hearing specialists have recommended solutions that focus on offering mobile device users with additional information:
- Alterations of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by using built in parental control settings.
- Extreme-volume alerts.
- 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 noise lasts).
And that’s just the beginning. Paying more attention to the health of our ears, plenty of technological solutions exist.
Turn Down The Volume
The most significant way to minimize injury to your hearing is to minimize the volume of your mobile device. That’s true whether you’re 15, 35, or 70.
And there is no disputing the fact that smartphones are not going away. It’s not just kids that are addicted to them, it’s everyone. So we’ve got to deal with the fact that loss of hearing is no longer linked to aging, it’s associated with technology.
That means we need to change the way we talk about, prevent, and treat hearing loss.
Also, decibel levels in your environment can be measured by app’s that you can download. 2 steps to protect your hearing. Ear protection is one way but also making certain 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 crank up the music to hear it better, the noise from the wind and traffic could already be at harmful levels. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you have any questions.