Hearing loss isn’t only a problem for older people, in spite of the prevalent belief. Overall hearing loss is becoming more prominent despite the fact that age is still a strong factor. Amongst adults aged 20 to 69 hearing loss stays in the 14-16% range. The World Health Organization and the United Nations recommend that more than 1 billion people globally aged 12-35 are in danger of getting loss of hearing. The CDC says roughly 15% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 already have loss of hearing and the latest research puts that number closer to 17%. Other reports say hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers from only 10 years ago. What’s more, a study from Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and forecasts that by 2060 around 73 million people over the age of 65 will have hearing loss. Over current numbers, that’s a staggering number.
What’s Causing Us to Develop Hearing Loss at a Younger Age?
In the past, if you didn’t spend your days in a loud and noisy surrounding, damage to your hearing would develop fairly slowly, so we think about it as an inevitable outcome of aging. This is the reason why when you’re grandmother wears a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. 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 you’re chatting with friends, listening to music, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we enjoy doing and using earbuds to do it all. Most people have no idea what is a damaging volume or how long it takes to do damage and that’s a problem. Sometimes we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily subjecting our ears to damaging levels of sound instead of protecting them.
There’s a whole generation of young people everywhere who are gradually injuring 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.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Avoiding very loud sounds is something that even young children are generally sensible enough to do. But it isn’t generally understood what hearing loss is about. Most people won’t know that medium intensity sounds can also damage your hearing if exposed for longer time periods.
But hearing loss is generally associated with aging so the majority of people, especially young people, aren’t even concerned with it.
According to the WHO, individuals in this 12-35-year-old age group might be exposing their ears to permanent damage.
Solutions And Recommendations
The problem is particularly widespread because so many of us are using smart devices regularly. That’s why offering additional information to mobile device users has been a suggested solution by some hearing professionals:
- It’s how long a sound lasts, not just how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a specific decibel for too long).
- Alerts about high volume.
- Adjustments of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by using built in parental control settings.
And that’s only the start. Paying more attention to the health of our ears, many technological possibilities exist.
Turn The Volume Down
The most important way to mitigate damage to your ears is to reduce the volume at which you listen to your mobile device. Whether your 15, 35, or 70, that holds true.
After all, smartphones aren’t going anywhere. Everyone uses them all the time, not just kids. So we have to understand that hearing loss has as much to do with technology as it does with aging.
That means the way we prevent, treat, and talk about hearing loss has to change.
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. 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 could already be at damaging levels. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, schedule a hearing exam.