Hearing loss isn’t only an issue for older people, despite the prevalent idea. In general hearing loss is on the rise in spite of the fact that age is still a strong factor. Hearing loss remains at around 14-16% among adults 20 to 69 years of age. The World Health Organization and the United Nations suggests that more than 1 billion people worldwide age 12-35 are at risk of getting hearing loss. The CDC says nearly 15% of children between 6 and 19 already have loss of hearing and more recent research indicates that that number is closer to 17%. Other reports say hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers over just 10 years ago. Worse still, a study from 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 hearing loss. That’s a staggering increase over current numbers.
We Are Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
In the past, if you didn’t spend your days in a loud and noisy environment, damage to your hearing would develop rather slowly, so we think about it as a side effect of aging. That’s the reason why you aren’t surprised when your grandfather uses a hearing aid. But at a younger and younger age, our hearing is being effected by changes of ways of life.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. We are doing what we love to do: listening to music, chatting with friends, watching movies and wearing earbuds or headphones to do it all. Most people have no idea what is a harmful sound level or how long it takes to do damage and that’s problematic. Instead of doing our best to protect our ears, we even regularly use earbuds to drown out loud noise, purposely subjecting our ears to harmful sound levels.
Slowly but surely, a whole generation of young people are harming their hearing. That’s a big problem, one that will cost billions of dollars in terms of treatment and loss of economic productivity.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Even young children are usually sensible enough to avoid incredibly loud noises. But it isn’t well understood what hearing loss is about. Most people aren’t going to know that medium intensity noises can also damage your hearing if the exposure is long enough.
But hearing loss is commonly associated with aging so most people, particularly young people, aren’t even concerned with it.
According to the WHO, individuals in this 12-35-year-old age group may be exposing their ears to permanent damage.
Options And Recommendations
Due to the fact that so many people use smart devices frequently, it’s an especially extensive issue. That’s why offering additional information to mobile device users has been a recommended solution by some hearing specialists:
- Alerts about high volume.
- It’s how long a sound lasts, not only how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a particular decibel level for too long).
- Built-in parental settings which let parents more closely monitor volume and adjust for hearing health.
And that’s only the beginning. There are a lot of technological methods to get us to start paying more attention to the well being of our hearing.
Reduce The Volume
If you reduce the volume of your mobile device it will be the most significant way to mitigate damage to your hearing. That’s true whether you’re 15, 35, or 70.
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 realize that hearing loss has as much to do with technology as it does with aging.
Which means we need to change the way we discuss, prevent, and treat 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 sure not to try 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 could already be at harmful levels. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, come talk to us.