In spite of popular opinion, hearing loss isn’t only an issue for older people. While age is a strong predictor of hearing loss, overall hearing loss has been on the rise. Among adults aged 20 to 69 hearing loss hovers in the 14-16% range. Globally, more than 1 billion people from the ages of 12-35 are in danger of getting hearing loss, according to the united nations and The World Health Organization. In children between 6 and 19, around 15% already have loss of hearing according to the CDC, and the number appears to be closer to 17% according to more recent research. Other reports say hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers over just a decade ago. Even worse, a study from Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and forecasts that by 2060 approximately 73 million people above the age of 65 will have loss of hearing. Over current numbers, that’s a staggering number.
We Are Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
We tend to think about hearing loss as a side effect of aging as it would develop slowly over years unless you spent extended time periods in a noisy setting. This is the reason why when you’re grandmother wears a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. But changes in our way of life 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 love to do and using earbuds to do it all. Most people have no clue what is a damaging volume or how long it takes to do damage and that’s an issue. Instead of taking steps to protect our ears, we often even use earbuds to drown out loud sound, voluntarily subjecting our ears to hazardous noise levels.
Slowly but surely, a whole generation of young people are damaging their hearing. That’s a big concern, one that’s going to cost billions of dollars in terms of treatment and loss of economic productivity.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Even young kids are usually sensible enough to avoid extremely loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t commonly understood. It’s not commonly known that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can harm hearing.
Of course, most people around the world, especially young people, aren’t really thinking about the risks of hearing loss because they think that it’s only an aging problem.
According to the WHO, people in this 12-35-year-old age group might be exposing their ears to irreversible damage.
Solutions And Recommendations
The issue is especially widespread because so many of us are using smart devices regularly. That’s why providing additional information to mobile device users has been a recommended solution by some hearing specialists:
- Alerts about high volume.
- It’s how long a sound persists, not only how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a specific decibel for too long).
- Modifications of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by employing built in parental control settings.
And that’s only the start. Paying more attention to the health of our ears, many technological possibilities exist.
Reduce The Volume
The most important way to minimize damage to your ears is to minimize 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. Everyone uses them all the time, not just kids. So we have to recognize that hearing loss has as much to do with technology as it does with aging.
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 such as trying to drown out noises with even louder noises. For instance, if you drive with your windows down, don’t turn up the music to hear it better, the noise from the wind and traffic might already be at harmful levels. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, schedule a hearing exam.