Loss of hearing isn’t simply an issue for the elderly, despite the prevalent idea. While age is a reliable predictor of hearing loss, as a whole hearing loss has been rising. Hearing loss remains at around 14-16% amongst adults 20 to 69 years old. The World Health Organization and the United Nations suggests that more than 1 billion people globally age 12-35 are in danger of developing hearing loss. In children between the ages of 6 and 19, around 15% already have hearing loss as reported by the CDC, and the number seems to be closer to 17% according to current research. 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 around 73 million people over the age of 65 will have loss of hearing. Over current numbers, that’s an astounding number.
We Are Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
We tend to consider hearing loss as a side effect of aging as it would progress slowly over years unless you spent extended amounts of time in a loud setting. This is why when you’re grandmother wears a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. But changes in our lifestyle are impacting our hearing younger and younger.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. Whether you’re talking to friends, listening to music, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we enjoy doing and using earbuds to do it all. The issue is that we have no idea how loud (and for how long) is harmful to our ears. Instead of taking steps to safeguard our ears, we often even use earbuds to drown out loud sound, purposely subjecting our ears to hazardous noise levels.
There’s an entire generation of young people around the world who are slowly but surely damaging their ability to hear. In terms of loss of productivity, that’s a big concern and one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment.
Loss of hearing is Misunderstood
Even young kids are usually smart enough to avoid incredibly loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t generally understood. It’s not generally recognized that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can injure hearing.
Of course, most people around the world, especially young people, aren’t really concerned about the risks of hearing loss because they think that it’s only an aging problem.
However, the WHO says permanent ear damage might be happening to those in this 12-35 age group.
Options And Recommendations
Because so many people utilize smart devices regularly, it’s a particularly widespread problem. That’s why some hearing professionals have recommended solutions that focus on offering mobile device users with additional information:
- High-volume alerts.
- Built-in parental settings which allow parents to more closely supervise volume and adjust for hearing health.
- Warnings when you listen too long at a high decibel level (it’s not simply the volume of a sound that can result in damage it’s how long the noise persists).
And that’s only the start. There are a lot of technological ways to get us to begin to pay more attention to the health of our hearing.
Turn Down The Volume
The most significant way to minimize damage to your ears is to reduce the volume at which you listen to your mobile device. Whether your 15, 35, or 70, that holds true.
And there is no disputing the fact that smartphones are not going away. Everyone uses them all the time, not just kids. So we have to deal with the fact that loss of hearing 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.
You should also try downloading an app that measures decibel levels in your environment. 2 steps to protect your hearing. Making certain not to try to drown out loud noises with even louder noises and of course wearing ear protection. If you drive with the window down, for instance, the noise from the wind and traffic might already be at a damaging level so don’t crank up the radio to drown it out. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you have any questions.