Loss of hearing isn’t simply a problem for older people, despite the prevalent belief. While age is a strong predictor of hearing loss, as a whole hearing loss has been on the rise. Amongst adults aged 20 to 69 hearing loss hovers in the 14-16% range. Globally, more than 1 billion people between the ages of 12-35 are at risk of developing hearing loss, as reported by the united nations and The World Health Organization. In children between the ages of 6 and 19, around 15% already have loss of hearing as reported by the CDC, and the number appears to be closer to 17% based on more recent research. Other reports say hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers from just a decade ago. Johns Hopkins conducted a study projecting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have hearing loss. That’s a staggering increase over current numbers.
What’s Causing Us to Develop Hearing Loss Earlier?
We often think about hearing loss as a side effect of aging as it would develop slowly over years unless you spent extended amounts of time in a loud setting. This is the reason why when you’re grandmother uses a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. But changes in our way of life are affecting 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: chatting with friends, listening to music, 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 problematic. Sometimes we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily exposing our ears to damaging levels of sound instead of protecting them.
There’s an entire generation of young people everywhere who are gradually damaging their hearing. 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?
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. It’s not commonly recognized that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can damage hearing.
Of course, the majority of people around the world, particularly young people, aren’t really concerned about the dangers of hearing loss because they think that it’s only an aging problem.
According to the WHO, individuals in this 12-35-year-old age group may be exposing their ears to permanent damage.
The problem is particularly widespread because so many of us are using smart devices on a regular basis. That’s the reason why many hearing professionals have suggested answers that focus on providing mobile device users with additional information:
- Warnings about high volume.
- Warnings when you listen too long at a specific decibel level (it’s not simply the volume of a sound that can lead to damage it’s how long the sound lasts).
- Adjustments of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by using built in parental control settings.
And that’s just the beginning. There are plenty of technological methods to get us to start paying more attention to the health of our hearing.
Reduce The Volume
The most significant way to mitigate injury to your hearing is to minimize the volume at which you listen to your mobile device. 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 only kids that are addicted to them, it’s everyone. So we have to come to terms with the fact that loss of hearing is no longer associated with aging, it’s associated with technology.
That means we need to change the way we talk about, prevent, and treat 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 certain you’re not doing things like attempting to drown out noises with even louder noises. If you drive with the window down, for instance, the noise from the wind and traffic may already be at a harmful level so don’t turn up the radio to drown it out. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, come talk to us.