Despite common opinion, hearing loss isn’t only an issue for the elderly. In general hearing loss is becoming more prominent despite the fact that how old you are is still a strong factor. 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 aged 12-35 are in danger of getting hearing loss. In children between 6 and 19, around 15% already have loss of hearing as reported by the CDC, and the number appears to be closer to 17% according to current research. Other reports say hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers over only 10 years ago. Worse still, 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.
Why Are we Developing Hearing Loss Earlier?
We usually consider hearing loss as a result of aging because it would progress slowly over years unless you spent extended amounts of time in a loud environment. This is the reason 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. We are doing what we like to do: chatting with friends, listening to music, watching movies and using earbuds or headphones 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 a problem. Occasionally we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily subjecting our ears to damaging levels of sound instead of safeguarding them.
There’s an entire generation of young people around the world who are gradually injuring their hearing. That’s a huge problem, one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment and loss of economic productivity.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Avoiding extremely loud sounds is something that even young kids are generally wise enough to do. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t generally grasped. It’s not generally known that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can harm hearing.
But hearing loss is generally associated with aging so the majority of people, specifically younger people, aren’t even concerned with it.
According to the WHO, individuals in this 12-35-year-old age group might be exposing their ears to permanent damage.
The problem is especially widespread because so many of us are using smart devices on a regular basis. That’s why some hearing professionals have suggested solutions that focus on providing mobile device users with additional information:
- Warnings when you listen too long at a specific decibel level (it’s not simply the volume of a sound that can lead to damage it’s how long the noise lasts).
- Extreme-volume warnings.
- Built-in parental settings which let parents more closely supervise volume and adjust for hearing health.
And that’s only the start. There are plenty of technological ways to get us to start paying more attention to the well being of our hearing.
Reduce The Volume
If you decrease the volume of your mobile device it will be the most significant way to mitigate injury to your ears. 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 only kids. So we have to understand 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. As an example, if you drive with your windows down, don’t crank up the music to hear it better, the noise from the wind and traffic may already be at harmful levels. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you have any questions.