Loss of hearing isn’t only a problem for the elderly, despite the prevalent belief. While age is a strong predictor of hearing loss, overall hearing loss has been on the rise. Hearing loss remains at about 14-16% amongst adults 20 to 69 years of age. Globally, more than 1 billion people between the ages of 12-35 are at risk of developing hearing loss, according to the united nations and The World Health Organization. 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%. Other reports say hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers over just a decade ago. Johns Hopkins carried out a study predicting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have hearing loss. That’s a staggering increase over current numbers.
What’s Causing Us to Develop Hearing Loss at a Younger Age?
We tend to consider hearing loss as a result of aging as it would progress slowly over years unless you spent extended time periods in a loud setting. That’s why you aren’t surprised when your grandmother uses a hearing aid. 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 enjoy doing: watching movies, listening to music, chatting with friends and using earbuds or headphones to do it all. The problem is that we have no idea what level of volume (and what duration of that volume) is damaging to our ears. Instead of taking steps to protect our ears, we even regularly use earbuds to drown out loud sound, purposely subjecting our ears to hazardous noise levels.
There’s a whole generation of young people around the world who are gradually injuring their ability to hear. That’s a big problem, one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment and loss of productivity in the economy.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Avoiding extremely loud sounds is something that even young kids are usually sensible enough to do. But it isn’t generally understood what hearing loss is about. It’s not commonly known that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can injure hearing.
Needless to say, the majority of people around the world, particularly young people, aren’t really thinking about the hazards of hearing loss because they associate it with aging.
According to the WHO, people in this 12-35-year-old age group could be exposing their ears to permanent damage.
The problem is particularly widespread because so many of us are using smart devices regularly. That’s why offering additional information to mobile device users has been a recommended solution by some hearing experts:
- Warnings about high volume.
- Adjustments of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by employing built in parental control settings.
- 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 persists).
And that’s only the start. Paying more attention to the health of our hearing, many technological possibilities exist.
Reduce The Volume
The most significant way to mitigate injury to your hearing is to decrease the volume of your mobile device. Whether your 15, 35, or 70, that holds true.
After all, smartphones aren’t going anywhere. Everyone uses them all the time, not just kids. So we have to deal with the fact that hearing loss is no longer linked to aging, it’s associated with technology.
Which means we’re going to need to change the way we discuss, prevent, and treat hearing loss.
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 try to drown out loud noises with even louder noises and of course wearing ear protection. If you drive with the window down, for example, the noise from the wind and traffic might already be at a harmful level so don’t crank up the radio to drown it out. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you have any questions.