In spite of common opinion, hearing loss isn’t just a problem for seniors. While age is a strong predictor of hearing loss, as a whole hearing loss has been on the rise. Hearing loss remains at around 14-16% among adults 20 to 69 years of age. The World Health Organization and the United Nations suggests that more than 1 billion people globally age 12-35 are in danger of getting loss of hearing. The CDC states that roughly 15% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 currently have hearing loss and the latest research puts that number closer to 17%. Just 10 years ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower as reported by another report. Even worse, a study from Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and forecasts that by 2060 about 73 million people over the age of 65 will have loss of hearing. Over current numbers, that’s an astounding number.
What’s Causing Us to Develop Hearing Loss Earlier?
In the past, unless you spent your days in a loud and noisy environment, damage to your hearing would happen rather slowly, so we think about it as an inevitable outcome of getting older. That’s the reason why you aren’t surprised when your grandmother uses a hearing aid. But changes in our lifestyle are impacting our hearing at a younger and younger age.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. We are doing what we love to do: listening to music, chatting with friends, watching movies and using earbuds or headphones to do it all. The problem is that we have no idea what level of volume (and what duration of that volume) is harmful to our ears. Sometimes we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily subjecting our ears to harmful levels of sound instead of safeguarding them.
There’s an entire generation of young people around the world who are slowly but surely damaging their hearing. That’s a huge concern, one that will cost billions of dollars in terms of treatment and loss of economic productivity.
Hearing Loss is Misunderstood
Even young kids are usually wise enough to stay away from extremely loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t widely grasped. It’s not commonly known that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can harm hearing.
Needless to say, most people around the world, particularly young people, aren’t really concerned about the hazards of hearing loss because they think that it’s only an aging problem.
However, the WHO says irreversible ear damage may be happening to those in this 12-35 age group.
Options And Recommendations
Due to the fact that so many people utilize smart devices frequently, it’s an especially widespread problem. That’s the reason why many hearing specialists have suggested solutions that focus on providing mobile device users with additional information:
- Warnings when you listen too long at a high decibel level (it’s not only the volume of a sound that can cause damage it’s how long the noise lasts).
- Built-in parental settings which allow parents to more closely supervise volume and adjust for hearing health.
- High-volume warnings.
And that’s just the start. There are plenty of technological methods 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 significant way to minimize injury to your hearing. That’s true whether you’re 15, 35, or 70.
And there is no disputing the fact that smartphones are not going away. Everyone uses them all the time, not only kids. So we’ve got to deal with the fact that hearing loss is no longer associated with aging, it’s associated with technology.
That means the way we prevent, treat, and talk about hearing loss has to change.
Also, decibel levels in your environment can be measured by app’s that you can download. 2 steps to protect your hearing. Making certain not to try to drown out loud noises with even louder noises and of course using ear protection. If you drive with the window down, for instance, 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. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional if you have any questions.