Hearing loss isn’t simply an issue for the elderly, in spite of the prevalent idea. While age is a strong predictor of hearing loss, overall hearing loss has been on the rise. Amongst adults aged 20 to 69 loss of hearing stays in the 14-16% range. Globally, more than 1 billion people between the ages of 12-35 are at risk of developing hearing loss, according to the united nations and The World Health Organization. The CDC states that nearly 15% of children between 6 and 19 already have loss of hearing and more recent research indicates that that number is closer to 17%. Only a decade ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower as reported by another study. Johns Hopkins performed a study predicting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have loss of hearing. Over current numbers, that’s a staggering number.
We Are Getting Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
It used to be that, unless you spent your days in a loud and noisy surrounding, damage to your hearing would develop fairly slowly, so we think about it as a side effect of getting older. That’s the reason why you aren’t surprised when your grandfather 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. We are doing what we enjoy doing: listening to music, chatting with friends, watching movies and wearing earbuds or headphones to do it all. Most people have no clue what is a damaging sound level or how long it takes to do damage and that’s a problem. Instead of taking steps to protect our ears, we often even use earbuds to drown out loud sound, purposely subjecting our ears to dangerous noise levels.
There’s a whole generation of young people around the world who are slowly but surely damaging their hearing. That’s a huge problem, one that’s going to cost billions of dollars in treatment and loss of economic productivity.
Loss of hearing is Not Well Understood
Even young kids are usually wise enough to avoid incredibly loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t popularly grasped. It’s not commonly known that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can harm hearing.
Needless to say, most people around the world, especially young people, aren’t really thinking about the hazards of hearing loss because they associate it with aging.
However, the WHO says permanent ear damage may be happening to those in this 12-35 age group.
The issue is especially 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 recommended solution 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 lasts, not only how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a specific decibel for too long).
- High-volume alerts.
And that’s only the beginning. 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 decrease the volume of your mobile device it will be the most important way to mitigate injury to your ears. That’s true whether you’re 15, 35, or 70.
And there is no arguing 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 come to terms with the fact that hearing loss is no longer linked to aging, it’s associated with technology.
That means we need to change the way we discuss, prevent, and deal with hearing loss.
You should also try downloading an app that measures decibel levels in your environment. 2 steps to protect your hearing. Making sure not to try to drown out loud noises with even louder noises and of course wearing ear protection. 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 crank up the radio to drown it out. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you have any questions.