Despite popular belief, hearing loss is not just an issue for seniors. In general hearing loss is becoming more prominent despite the fact that age is still a strong factor. Amongst adults aged 20 to 69 loss of hearing hovers in the 14-16% range. The World Health Organization and the United Nations suggests that more than 1 billion people globally aged 12-35 are in danger of developing hearing loss. In children between the ages of 6 and 19, nearly 15% already have hearing loss as reported by the CDC, and the number seems to be closer to 17% based on more recent research. Only a decade ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower as reported by another report. Johns Hopkins conducted a study predicting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have hearing loss. That’s an astounding increase over current numbers.
We Are Getting Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
We usually consider hearing loss as a result of aging because it would develop slowly over years unless you spent extended time periods in a noisy setting. That’s why you aren’t surprised when your grandfather uses a hearing aid. But changes in our lifestyle are affecting our hearing younger and younger.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. Whether it’s chatting with friends, listening to tunes, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we love to do and using earbuds for all of it. 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 protecting them.
There’s an entire generation of young people around the world who are slowly but surely damaging their ability to hear. In terms of loss of productivity, that’s a huge concern and one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment.
Loss of hearing is Misunderstood
Even young children are usually smart enough to stay away from extremely loud noises. But it isn’t widely understood what hearing loss is about. Most people aren’t going to know that medium intensity noises can also damage your hearing if exposed for longer time periods.
But hearing loss is generally associated with aging so most people, especially young people, aren’t even concerned with it.
According to the WHO, people in this 12-35-year-old age group could be exposing their ears to permanent damage.
Solutions And Suggestions
The problem is particularly widespread because so many of us are using smart devices regularly. That’s why many hearing specialists have recommended answers that focus on offering mobile device users with additional information:
- Alterations of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by employing built in parental control settings.
- Warnings about high volume.
- It’s how long a sound lasts, not just how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a specific decibel level for too long).
And that’s only the start. Paying more attention to the health of our hearing, plenty of technological possibilities exist.
Turn Down The Volume
If you minimize the volume of your mobile device it will be the most significant way to mitigate damage to your ears. Whether your 15, 35, or 70, that holds true.
Let’s face it, smartphones aren’t going anywhere. Everyone uses them all the time, not just kids. So we’ve got to come to terms with the fact that hearing loss is no longer linked to aging, it’s associated with technology.
That means we’re going to need to change the way we talk about, prevent, and deal with 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 try to drown out loud noises with even louder noises and of course using ear protection. If you drive with the window down, for example, the noise from the wind and traffic could already be at a damaging 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.