Loss of hearing isn’t only an issue for the elderly, in spite of the common belief. Overall hearing loss is becoming more prominent in spite of the fact that age is still a strong factor. Hearing loss stays at about 14-16% among adults 20 to 69 years old. World wide, more than 1 billion people between the ages of 12-35 are at risk of getting hearing loss, as reported by the united nations and The World Health Organization. The CDC says nearly 15% of children between 6 and 19 currently have hearing loss and more recent research indicates that that number is closer to 17%. Only a decade ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower according to another study. Even worse, a study conducted by Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and forecasts that by 2060 approximately 73 million people above the age of 65 will have hearing loss. That’s a staggering increase over current numbers.
What’s Causing Us to Develop Hearing Loss at a Younger Age?
It used to be that, unless you spent your days in a loud and noisy environment, damage to your hearing would develop rather slowly, so we consider it as a side effect of getting older. That’s why you aren’t surprised when your grandfather uses a hearing aid. But changes in our way of life are impacting our hearing younger and younger.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. We are doing what we enjoy doing: watching movies, listening to music, chatting with friends and using earbuds or headphones for all of it. The problem is that we have no idea what level of volume (and what duration of that volume) is harmful to our hearing. Occasionally we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily exposing our ears to harmful levels of sound instead of safeguarding them.
There’s an entire generation of young people everywhere who are slowly but surely injuring their ability to hear. That’s a huge problem, one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment and loss of productivity in the economy.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Keeping away from very loud noises is something that even young kids are usually wise enough to do. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t widely understood. The majority of people won’t know that medium intensity noises can also damage your hearing if exposed for longer time periods.
But hearing loss is normally associated with aging so the majority of people, particularly young people, aren’t even concerned with it.
However, the WHO says permanent ear damage could be occurring in those in this 12-35 age group.
The issue is particularly widespread because so many of us are using smart devices regularly. That’s why many hearing specialists have recommended solutions that focus on offering mobile device users with additional information:
- Warnings when you listen too long at a high decibel level (it’s not just the volume of a sound that can lead to damage it’s how long the sound persists).
- Built-in parental settings which let parents more closely monitor volume and adjust for hearing health.
- High-volume alerts.
And that’s only the start. Paying more attention to the health of our hearing, many technological solutions exist.
Reduce The Volume
If you minimize the volume of your mobile device it will be the most significant way to mitigate injury to your ears. That’s true whether you’re 15, 35, or 70.
After all, smartphones aren’t going anywhere. It’s not only kids that are attached to them, it’s everyone. So we’ve got to come to terms with the fact that loss of hearing is no longer linked to aging, it’s associated with technology.
Which means we’re going to need to change the way we talk about, 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. Ear protection is one way but also making sure you’re not doing things such as attempting to drown out noises with even louder noises. For example, if you drive with your windows down, don’t turn up the music to hear it better, the noise from the wind and traffic could already be at harmful levels. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional if you have any questions.