Despite popular opinion, hearing loss is not only a problem for seniors. While age is a strong predictor of hearing loss, as a whole hearing loss has been on the rise. Amongst adults aged 20 to 69 hearing loss hovers in the 14-16% range. World wide, more than 1 billion people from the ages of 12-35 are at risk of getting hearing loss, according to the united nations and The World Health Organization. In children between the ages of 6 and 19, about 15% already have hearing loss according to the CDC, and the number seems to be closer to 17% according to more recent research. Only a decade ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower as reported by another study. Johns Hopkins conducted a study projecting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older 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 happen rather slowly, so we think about it as an inevitable outcome of aging. That’s the reason why you aren’t surprised when your grandmother wears a hearing aid. 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 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. The problem is that we have no clue how loud (and for how long) is damaging to our hearing. Sometimes we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily exposing our ears to damaging levels of sound instead of protecting them.
There’s a whole 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 children are usually wise enough to do. But it isn’t well understood what hearing loss is about. It’s not commonly recognized that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can injure hearing.
Of course, most people around the world, especially young people, aren’t really thinking about the risks of hearing loss because they associate it with aging.
However, the WHO says irreversible ear damage could 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 on a regular basis. That’s why offering additional information to mobile device users has been a suggested solution by some hearing experts:
- It’s how long a sound lasts, not only how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a specified decibel level for too long).
- Modifications of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by employing built in parental control settings.
- High-volume alerts.
And that’s only the start. Paying more attention to the health of our hearing, plenty of technological solutions exist.
Reduce The Volume
If you reduce the volume of your mobile device it will be the most significant way to mitigate damage to your ears. Whether your 15, 35, or 70, that holds true.
Let’s face it, smartphones aren’t going anywhere. It’s not only kids that are addicted to them, it’s everyone. So we have to realize that hearing loss has as much to do with technology as it does with aging.
That means we need to change the way we discuss, prevent, and treat hearing loss.
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 certain you’re not doing things such as attempting 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 could already be at damaging levels. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, schedule a hearing exam.