In spite of popular opinion, hearing loss is not just an issue for older people. While age is a strong predictor of hearing loss, overall hearing loss has been on the rise. Hearing loss stays at about 14-16% amongst adults 20 to 69 years old. World wide, more than 1 billion people between 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, nearly 15% already have loss of hearing according to the CDC, and the number seems to be closer to 17% based on current research. Only a decade ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower according to another report. Johns Hopkins conducted a study projecting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have hearing loss. That’s a staggering increase over current numbers.
Why Are we Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age?
We usually think about hearing loss as a result of aging as it would develop slowly over years unless you spent extended amounts of time in a loud setting. This is why when you’re grandmother wears a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. But at a younger and younger age, our hearing is being effected by changes of ways of life.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. Whether you’re talking to friends, listening to tunes, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we enjoy doing and using earbuds for all of it. The problem is that we have no idea how loud (and for how long) is harmful to our ears. Occasionally we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily subjecting our ears to damaging levels of sound instead of protecting them.
Gradually, a whole generation of young people are damaging their hearing. That’s a huge problem, one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment and loss of productivity in the economy.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Even young children are usually wise enough to stay away from incredibly loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t generally grasped. Most people won’t know that medium intensity noises can also damage your hearing if exposed for longer time periods.
But hearing loss is generally associated with aging so most people, especially younger people, don’t even think about it.
However, the WHO says irreversible ear damage might be occurring in those in this 12-35 age group.
Solutions And Recommendations
The issue 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 answer by some hearing specialists:
- Alerts about high volume.
- Alterations of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by using built in parental control settings.
- It’s how long a sound persists, not only how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a specific decibel level for too long).
And that’s only the start. There are a lot of technological ways to get us to begin to pay more attention to the health of our hearing.
Turn The Volume Down
If you minimize the volume of your mobile device it will be the most significant way to minimize injury to your ears. That’s true whether you’re 15, 35, or 70.
After all, smartphones aren’t going anywhere. It’s not just kids that are addicted to them, it’s everyone. So we’ve got to deal with the fact that loss of hearing is no longer linked to 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 certain not to attempt to drown out loud noises with even louder noises and of course using 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 crank up the radio to drown it out. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, schedule a hearing exam.