Despite common opinion, hearing loss is not just a problem for older people. While age is a strong predictor of hearing loss, overall hearing loss has been on the rise. Hearing loss remains at about 14-16% amongst adults 20 to 69 years of age. The World Health Organization and the United Nations suggests that more than 1 billion people globally aged 12-35 are at risk of getting hearing loss. In children between 6 and 19, nearly 15% already have loss of hearing as reported by the CDC, and the number appears to be closer to 17% based on current research. Other reports say hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers from only 10 years ago. Even worse, a study conducted by Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and forecasts that by 2060 about 73 million people over the age of 65 will have hearing loss. That’s an astounding increase over current numbers.
What’s Causing Us to Develop Hearing Loss Earlier?
We usually think about hearing loss as a side effect of aging as it would develop slowly over years unless you spent extended time periods in a noisy environment. This is why when you’re grandmother wears a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. But changes in our lifestyle are affecting our hearing at a younger and younger age.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. Whether it’s chatting with friends, listening to music, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we enjoy doing and wearing earbuds for all of it. The issue is that we have no clue 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, purposely subjecting our ears to harmful noise levels.
There’s a whole generation of young people everywhere who are slowly but surely injuring their ability to hear. That’s a huge concern, one that’s going to cost billions of dollars in treatment and loss of economic productivity.
Loss of hearing is Not Well Understood
Avoiding very loud noises is something that even young kids are generally smart enough to do. But it isn’t popularly understood what hearing loss is about. It’s not generally known that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can injure hearing.
But hearing loss is generally associated with aging so most people, especially younger people, don’t even think about it.
According to the WHO, individuals in this 12-35-year-old age group might be exposing their ears to permanent damage.
Due to the fact that so many people use smart devices regularly, it’s a particularly extensive issue. That’s the reason why providing additional information to mobile device users has been a recommended answer by some hearing specialists:
- Modifications of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by employing built in parental control settings.
- Extreme-volume alerts.
- It’s how long a sound persists, not only how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a specified decibel for too long).
And that’s just the start. Paying more attention to the health of our hearing, plenty of technological solutions exist.
Reduce The Volume
If you minimize the volume of your mobile device it will be the most important way to minimize damage to your hearing. That’s true whether you’re 15, 35, or 70.
And there is no arguing the fact that smartphones are not going away. Everyone uses them all the time, not just kids. So we have to deal with the fact that hearing loss is no longer linked to aging, it’s associated with technology.
Which means we need to change the way we discuss, 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 wearing ear protection. As an example, if you drive with your windows down, don’t crank 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.