Hearing loss isn’t only an issue for older people, despite the common belief. Overall hearing loss is on the rise despite the fact that age is still a strong factor. Hearing loss remains at around 14-16% amongst adults 20 to 69 years of age. The World Health Organization and the United Nations recommend that more than 1 billion people globally aged 12-35 are in danger of developing hearing loss. The CDC says roughly 15% of children between 6 and 19 already have loss of hearing and more recent research indicates that that number is closer to 17%. Only a decade ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower as reported by another study. Worse still, 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. Over current numbers, that’s a staggering number.
We Are Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
We usually consider hearing loss as a side effect of aging because it would develop slowly over years unless you spent extended time periods in a loud setting. That’s the reason why you aren’t surprised when your grandfather wears a hearing aid. But changes in our way of life are affecting 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 to do it all. The issue is that we have no idea how loud (and for how long) is damaging to our ears. Sometimes we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily exposing our ears to harmful levels of sound instead of safeguarding them.
There’s an entire generation of young people around the world who are gradually injuring their ability to hear. In terms of loss of productivity, that’s a big problem and one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Avoiding extremely loud sounds is something that even young kids are generally smart enough to do. But it isn’t generally understood what hearing loss is about. Most people won’t know that medium intensity sounds can also damage your hearing if the exposure is long enough.
Needless to say, the majority of people around the world, particularly young people, aren’t really concerned about the risks 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 problem is particularly widespread because so many of us are using smart devices regularly. That’s the reason why offering additional information to mobile device users has been a suggested solution by some hearing specialists:
- Modifications of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by employing built in parental control settings.
- Alerts about high volume.
- 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 sound lasts).
And that’s only the beginning. Paying more attention to the health of our ears, plenty of technological possibilities exist.
Reduce The Volume
The most significant way to mitigate damage to your hearing is to reduce the volume of 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. It’s not just 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.
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 attempting to drown out noises with even louder noises. If you drive with the window down, for instance, the noise from the wind and traffic may already be at a damaging level so don’t crank up the radio to drown it out. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, schedule a hearing exam.