In spite of common belief, hearing loss is not just a problem for older people. While age is a strong predictor of hearing loss, as a whole hearing loss has been on the rise. Hearing loss remains 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 developing hearing loss, according to the united nations and The World Health Organization. The CDC says roughly 15% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 already have hearing loss and more recent research puts that number closer to 17%. Other reports state that hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers from only a decade ago. Johns Hopkins conducted a study predicting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have loss of hearing. That’s a staggering increase over current numbers.
Why Are we Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age?
We often consider hearing loss as a result of aging because it would progress slowly over years unless you spent extended time periods in a loud environment. That’s why you aren’t surprised when your grandmother uses a hearing aid. But at a younger and younger age, our hearing is being effected by changes of lifestyle.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. Whether you’re chatting with friends, listening to tunes, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we love to do and using earbuds to do it all. The problem is that we have no idea how loud (and for how long) is damaging to our ears. Occasionally we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily subjecting our ears to harmful levels of sound instead of safeguarding them.
Slowly but surely, an entire generation of young people are harming their hearing. In terms of loss of productivity, that’s a big problem and one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment.
Loss of hearing is Misunderstood
Even young kids are usually sensible enough to avoid extremely loud noises. But it isn’t commonly understood what hearing loss is about. It’s not commonly known that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can damage hearing.
Of course, most people around the world, specifically 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 happening to those in this 12-35 age group.
Options And Suggestions
Due to the fact that so many people utilize smart devices frequently, it’s a particularly extensive problem. That’s the reason why providing additional information to mobile device users has been a suggested solution by some hearing specialists:
- Alterations of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by using built in parental control settings.
- Alerts about high volume.
- Warnings when you listen too long at a high decibel level (it’s not just the volume of a sound that can cause damage it’s how long the noise persists).
And that’s only the start. Paying more attention to the health of our hearing, plenty of technological possibilities exist.
Turn The Volume Down
If you minimize the volume of your mobile device it will be the most important way to mitigate injury to your hearing. Whether your 15, 35, or 70, that holds true.
And there is no disputing the fact that smartphones are not going away. It’s not just kids that are attached 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’re going to need to change the way we talk about, 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. Ear protection is one way but also making certain you’re not doing things like trying to drown out noises with even louder noises. If you drive with the window down, for instance, the noise from the wind and traffic might already be at a harmful level so don’t turn up the radio to drown it out. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you have any questions.