Loss of hearing isn’t simply an issue for the elderly, despite the common belief. In general hearing loss is on the rise in spite of the fact that age is still a strong factor. Hearing loss stays at around 14-16% among adults 20 to 69 years old. The World Health Organization and the United Nations suggests that more than 1 billion people globally age 12-35 are at risk of developing loss of hearing. The CDC states that roughly 15% of children between 6 and 19 currently have hearing loss and more recent research puts that number closer to 17%. Only a decade ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower according to another study. Johns Hopkins performed a study predicting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have hearing loss. Over current numbers, that’s an astounding number.
We Are Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
We usually consider hearing loss as a result of aging because it would progress slowly over years unless you spent extended amounts of time in a loud setting. That’s the reason why you aren’t surprised when your grandfather uses 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 you’re talking to friends, listening to tunes, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we love to do and wearing earbuds for all of it. Most people have no clue what is a harmful sound level or how long it takes to do damage and that’s a problem. Sometimes we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily exposing our ears to harmful levels of sound instead of protecting them.
Slowly but surely, an entire generation of young people are harming their ears. That’s a big problem, one that’s going to cost billions of dollars in terms of treatment and loss of economic productivity.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Even young children are usually wise enough to stay away from extremely loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t widely understood. Most people aren’t going to know that medium intensity sounds can also damage your hearing if exposed for longer time periods.
But hearing loss is normally associated with aging so the majority of people, especially young people, don’t even think about it.
According to the WHO, people in this 12-35-year-old age group might be exposing their ears to permanent damage.
Due to the fact that so many people use smart devices frequently, it’s a particularly widespread issue. That’s why many hearing specialists have suggested solutions that focus on offering mobile device users with additional information:
- Extreme-volume alerts.
- Modifications of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by using built in parental control settings.
- Warnings when you listen too long at a specific decibel level (it’s not only the volume of a sound that can lead to damage it’s how long the sound persists).
And that’s just the start. There are a lot of technological methods to get us to begin to pay more attention to the health of our hearing.
Reduce The Volume
If you minimize the volume of your mobile device it will be the most important way to minimize injury to your ears. That’s true whether you’re 15, 35, or 70.
Let’s be honest, smartphones aren’t going anywhere. Everyone uses them all the time, not only kids. 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.
Which means we 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 certain not to attempt to drown out loud noises with even louder noises and of course using ear protection. For 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.