Despite popular belief, hearing loss isn’t only a problem for seniors. While age is a reliable predictor of hearing loss, overall hearing loss has been on the rise. Hearing loss remains at about 14-16% amongst adults 20 to 69 years of age. The World Health Organization and the United Nations suggests that more than 1 billion people worldwide age 12-35 are in danger of developing hearing loss. The CDC says nearly 15% of children between 6 and 19 currently have loss of hearing and the latest research puts that number closer to 17%. Other reports state that hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers from only 10 years ago. Even worse, a study conducted by Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and estimates that by 2060 approximately 73 million people above the age of 65 will have loss of hearing. That’s an astounding increase over current numbers.
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 develop fairly slowly, so we consider 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 at a younger and younger age, our hearing is being effected by changes of lifestyle.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. We are doing what we love to do: watching movies, listening to music, chatting with friends and using earbuds or headphones to do it all. Most people have no clue what is a harmful sound level or how long it takes to do damage and that’s an issue. Sometimes we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily subjecting our ears to harmful levels of sound instead of protecting them.
Slowly but surely, an entire generation of young people are damaging their hearing. That’s a big problem, one that will cost billions of dollars in terms of treatment and loss of economic productivity.
Loss of hearing is Misunderstood
Avoiding very loud noises is something that even young children are usually smart enough to do. But it isn’t widely understood what hearing loss is about. It’s not generally known that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can damage hearing.
But hearing loss is generally associated with aging so the majority of people, particularly young people, don’t even think about it.
According to the WHO, those in this 12-35-year-old age group might be exposing their ears to irreversible damage.
Solutions And Suggestions
Because so many people use smart devices frequently, it’s an especially extensive issue. That’s why providing additional information to mobile device users has been a recommended solution by some hearing experts:
- Modifications of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by employing built in parental control settings.
- It’s how long a sound lasts, not just how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a specific decibel for too long).
- High-volume warnings.
And that’s only the beginning. There are a lot of technological ways to get us to begin to pay more attention to the well being of our hearing.
Reduce The Volume
The most significant way to minimize injury to your hearing is to decrease the volume of your mobile device. That’s true whether you’re 15, 35, or 70.
Let’s be honest, smartphones aren’t going anywhere. It’s not only kids that are addicted to them, it’s everyone. So we’ve got to come to terms with the fact that hearing loss 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 sure you’re not doing things like attempting to drown out noises with even louder noises. As an example, if you drive with your windows down, don’t turn up the music to hear it better, the noise from the wind and traffic may already be at damaging levels. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, come talk to us.