In spite of popular opinion, hearing loss is not just a problem for seniors. Overall hearing loss is on the rise in spite of the fact that how old you are 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, 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 the latest research puts that number closer to 17%. Other reports state that hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers over only 10 years ago. Worse still, a study conducted by Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and forecasts that by 2060 about 73 million people above the age of 65 will have loss of hearing. Over current numbers, that’s a staggering number.
What’s Causing Us to Develop Hearing Loss at a Younger Age?
We usually consider hearing loss as a side effect of aging as it would progress slowly over years unless you spent extended amounts of time in a noisy setting. This is why when you’re grandfather wears a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. But changes in our lifestyle 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 love to do: watching movies, listening to music, chatting with friends and using earbuds or headphones to do it all. The problem is that we have no idea what level of volume (and what duration of that volume) is harmful to our hearing. Instead of taking steps to protect our ears, we often even use earbuds to drown out loud sound, voluntarily subjecting our ears to hazardous noise levels.
Slowly but surely, a whole generation of young people are harming their ears. In terms of loss of productivity, that’s a big concern and one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment.
Hearing Loss is Misunderstood
Avoiding very loud noises is something that even young kids are usually smart enough to do. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t widely grasped. Most people won’t know that medium intensity sounds can also damage your hearing if the exposure is long enough.
But hearing loss is normally associated with aging so most people, especially young people, aren’t even concerned with it.
However, the WHO says permanent ear damage could be happening to those in this 12-35 age group.
Solutions And Recommendations
Because so many people use smart devices frequently, it’s a particularly extensive issue. That’s why offering additional information to mobile device users has been a recommended solution by some hearing experts:
- High-volume warnings.
- Modifications of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by employing built in parental control settings.
- Warnings when you listen too long at a high decibel level (it’s not just the volume of a sound that can result in damage it’s how long the sound persists).
And that’s only the beginning. Paying more attention to the health of our ears, plenty of technological possibilities exist.
Reduce The Volume
The most significant way to mitigate damage 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 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.
You should also try downloading an app that measures decibel levels in your environment. 2 steps to protect your hearing. Making sure not to attempt to drown out loud noises with even louder noises and of course using ear protection. For instance, if you drive with your windows down, don’t turn up the music to hear it better, the noise from the wind and traffic might already be at harmful levels. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, come talk to us.