Hearing loss isn’t just an issue for older people, despite the prevalent idea. Overall hearing loss is becoming more prominent in spite of the fact that how old you are is still a strong factor. Hearing loss remains at about 14-16% among adults 20 to 69 years old. The World Health Organization and the United Nations recommend that more than 1 billion people globally aged 12-35 are at risk of developing loss of hearing. 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% according to current research. Only 10 years ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower according to another report. 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?
In the past, if you didn’t spend 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 wears a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. But changes in our way of life are affecting our hearing younger and younger.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. We are doing what we like to do: listening to music, chatting with friends, watching movies and wearing earbuds or headphones for all of it. Most people have no clue what is a harmful volume or how long it takes to do damage and that’s problematic. Instead of doing our best to protect our ears, we even regularly use earbuds to drown out loud sound, purposely subjecting our ears to dangerous noise levels.
There’s a whole generation of young people everywhere who are gradually damaging their ability to hear. In terms of loss of productivity, that’s a huge problem and one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment.
Loss of hearing is Not Well Understood
Even young kids are usually sensible enough to avoid extremely loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t popularly understood. Most people aren’t going to know that medium intensity noises can also damage your hearing if the exposure is long enough.
But hearing loss is normally associated with aging so most people, especially younger people, don’t even think about it.
According to the WHO, those in this 12-35-year-old age group could be exposing their ears to permanent damage.
The problem is especially widespread because so many of us are using smart devices regularly. That’s the reason why offering additional information to mobile device users has been a suggested answer by some hearing experts:
- Built-in parental settings that let parents more closely monitor volume and adjust for hearing health.
- It’s how long a sound lasts, not just how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a specific decibel for too long).
- Warnings about high volume.
And that’s only the beginning. Paying more attention to the health of our hearing, many technological possibilities exist.
Reduce The Volume
The most significant way to mitigate injury to your ears is to decrease 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 only kids that are attached to them, it’s everyone. So we have to come to terms with the fact that loss of hearing is no longer linked to aging, it’s associated with technology.
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. Ear protection is one way but also making certain you’re not doing things like trying to drown out noises with even louder noises. As an 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. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, come talk to us.