In spite of popular belief, hearing loss isn’t only a problem for seniors. Overall hearing loss is becoming more prominent in spite of the fact that how old you are is still a strong factor. Amongst adults aged 20 to 69 hearing loss hovers in the 14-16% range. The World Health Organization and the United Nations recommend that more than 1 billion people worldwide aged 12-35 are at risk of getting loss of hearing. In children between 6 and 19, nearly 15% already have loss of hearing as reported by the CDC, and the number appears to be closer to 17% based on current research. Other reports say hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers over only 10 years ago. Johns Hopkins performed a study projecting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have hearing loss. That’s an astounding increase over current numbers.
We Are Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
We usually consider hearing loss as a side effect of aging because it would progress slowly over years unless you spent extended amounts of time in a noisy setting. That’s why you aren’t surprised when your grandfather wears a hearing aid. But changes in our lifestyle are affecting our hearing at a younger and younger age.
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 wearing earbuds for all of it. The problem is that we have no clue what level of volume (and what duration of that volume) is damaging to our hearing. Instead of doing our best to safeguard our ears, we even regularly use earbuds to drown out loud sound, voluntarily subjecting our ears to hazardous noise levels.
Slowly but surely, an entire generation of young people are damaging their ears. That’s a huge problem, one that will cost billions of dollars in terms of treatment and loss of economic productivity.
Loss of hearing is Not Well Understood
Avoiding very loud sounds is something that even young kids are usually smart enough to do. But it isn’t generally understood what hearing loss is about. The majority of people won’t know that medium intensity noises can also damage your hearing if the exposure is long enough.
But hearing loss is generally associated with aging so most people, specifically young people, aren’t even concerned with it.
However, the WHO says permanent ear damage may be happening to those in this 12-35 age group.
Options And Suggestions
The issue is particularly widespread because so many of us are using smart devices regularly. That’s why providing additional information to mobile device users has been a suggested answer by some hearing experts:
- Modifications 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 just how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a particular decibel level for too long).
- Alerts about high volume.
And that’s just the start. Paying more attention to the health of our hearing, plenty of technological solutions exist.
Turn The Volume Down
If you decrease the volume of your mobile device it will be the most important way to minimize damage 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 just kids. So we have to realize 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 certain you’re not doing things such as attempting to drown out noises with even louder noises. For instance, 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 harmful levels. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you have any questions.