In spite of common opinion, hearing loss isn’t just an issue for the elderly. While age is a strong predictor of hearing loss, overall hearing loss has been rising. 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 worldwide aged 12-35 are at risk of developing loss of hearing. The CDC states that roughly 15% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 already have loss of hearing and more recent research indicates that that number is closer to 17%. Other reports say hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers over only 10 years ago. What’s more, a study from Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and forecasts that by 2060 around 73 million people over the age of 65 will have loss of hearing. That’s a staggering increase over current numbers.
We Are Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
It used to be that, if you didn’t spend your days in a loud and noisy environment, damage to your hearing would develop relatively slowly, so we consider it as an inevitable outcome of getting older. That’s why you aren’t surprised when your grandfather wears a hearing aid. But changes in our lifestyle are affecting our hearing younger and younger.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. Whether it’s talking to friends, listening to music, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we love to do and using earbuds for all of it. Most people have no clue what is a damaging volume or how long it takes to do damage and that’s problematic. Sometimes we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily exposing our ears to harmful levels of sound instead of protecting them.
There’s an entire generation of young people everywhere who are gradually injuring their hearing. That’s a huge problem, one that will cost billions of dollars in terms of treatment and loss of productivity in the economy.
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 popularly understood. It’s not commonly known that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can damage hearing.
Needless to say, most people around the world, particularly young people, aren’t really concerned about the dangers of hearing loss because they think that it’s only an aging problem.
According to the WHO, those in this 12-35-year-old age group may be exposing their ears to irreversible damage.
The issue is especially widespread because so many of us are using smart devices regularly. That’s the reason why many hearing specialists have recommended answers that focus on offering mobile device users with additional information:
- It’s how long a sound persists, not only how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a particular decibel level for too long).
- Built-in parental settings which allow parents to more closely monitor volume and adjust for hearing health.
- Alerts about high volume.
And that’s just the beginning. Paying more attention to the health of our ears, plenty of technological solutions exist.
Turn Down The Volume
If you decrease the volume of your mobile device it will be the most important way to mitigate damage to your hearing. Whether your 15, 35, or 70, that holds true.
And there is no arguing the fact that smartphones are not going away. It’s not only kids that are attached to them, it’s everyone. So we’ve got to come to terms 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 sure not to attempt 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 could already be at a harmful level so don’t turn up the radio to drown it out. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, come talk to us.