Loss of hearing isn’t simply an issue for older people, despite the prevalent idea. While age is a reliable predictor of hearing loss, as a whole hearing loss has been rising. Among adults aged 20 to 69 loss of hearing hovers in the 14-16% range. The World Health Organization and the United Nations recommend that more than 1 billion people globally aged 12-35 are in danger of getting hearing loss. In children between the ages of 6 and 19, around 15% already have hearing loss according to the CDC, and the number appears to be closer to 17% based on current research. Just 10 years ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower as reported by another study. What’s more, a study conducted by Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and forecasts that by 2060 approximately 73 million people over the age of 65 will have hearing loss. Over current numbers, that’s a staggering number.
We Are Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
In the past, unless you spent your days in a loud and noisy surrounding, damage to your hearing would develop rather slowly, so we think about it as a side effect of aging. This is why when you’re grandmother uses 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. We are doing what we enjoy doing: listening to music, chatting with friends, watching movies and wearing earbuds or headphones to do it all. Most people have no idea what is a harmful volume or how long it takes to do damage and that’s a problem. Instead of taking steps to safeguard our ears, we even regularly use earbuds to drown out loud noise, purposely subjecting our ears to harmful sound levels.
Little by little, a whole generation of young people are harming their ears. In terms of loss of productivity, that’s a huge concern and one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Even young kids are usually wise enough to stay away from incredibly loud noises. But it isn’t popularly understood what hearing loss is about. Most people aren’t going to know that medium intensity sounds can also damage your hearing if the exposure is long enough.
Of course, most people around the world, specifically young people, aren’t really concerned about the risks of hearing loss because they associate it with aging.
According to the WHO, individuals in this 12-35-year-old age group may be exposing their ears to permanent damage.
The issue is especially widespread because so many of us are using smart devices on a regular basis. That’s why some hearing professionals have suggested answers that focus on providing mobile device users with additional information:
- Built-in parental controls which allow parents to more closely monitor volume and adjust for hearing health.
- Extreme-volume warnings.
- It’s how long a sound lasts, not just how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a particular decibel for too long).
And that’s only the start. There are plenty of technological methods to get us to start paying more attention to the health of our hearing.
Turn Down The Volume
If you minimize the volume of your mobile device it will be the most important way to minimize damage to your hearing. That’s true whether you’re 15, 35, or 70.
After all, 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 we need to change the way we talk about, prevent, and deal with 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 sure you’re not doing things such as trying to drown out noises with even louder noises. If you drive with the window down, for example, the noise from the wind and traffic may already be at a damaging level so don’t crank up the radio to drown it out. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you have any questions.