Despite common belief, hearing loss isn’t only a problem for older people. While age is a strong predictor of hearing loss, as a whole hearing loss has been on the rise. Hearing loss stays at around 14-16% among adults 20 to 69 years of age. World wide, more than 1 billion people from the ages of 12-35 are in danger of getting hearing loss, as reported by the united nations and The World Health Organization. The CDC says roughly 15% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 currently have loss of hearing and the latest research puts that number closer to 17%. Just 10 years ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower as reported by another report. Worse still, a study from Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and estimates that by 2060 about 73 million people over the age of 65 will have loss of hearing. That’s an astounding increase over current numbers.
We Are Getting Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
It used to be that, if you didn’t spend your days in a loud and noisy environment, damage to your hearing would happen rather slowly, so we consider it as an inevitable outcome of getting older. That’s 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 lifestyle.
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 enjoy doing and wearing earbuds to do it all. The problem is that we have no idea what level of volume (and what duration of that volume) is damaging to our hearing. Occasionally we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily subjecting our ears to damaging levels of sound instead of safeguarding them.
Little by little, an entire 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.
Loss of hearing is Not Well Understood
Even young kids are usually wise enough to avoid extremely loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t generally understood. It’s not commonly known that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can damage hearing.
Of course, most people around the world, especially young people, aren’t really thinking about the risks of hearing loss because they think that it’s only an aging problem.
According to the WHO, those in this 12-35-year-old age group might be exposing their ears to permanent damage.
Solutions And Recommendations
Because so many people use smart devices regularly, it’s an especially extensive problem. That’s the reason why many hearing professionals have recommended solutions that focus on offering mobile device users with additional information:
- Alerts about high volume.
- Built-in parental settings that allow parents to more closely supervise volume and adjust for hearing health.
- Warnings when you listen too long at a specific decibel level (it’s not simply the volume of a sound that can result in damage it’s how long the noise persists).
And that’s only the start. Paying more attention to the health of our ears, plenty of technological possibilities exist.
Reduce The Volume
The most important way to mitigate damage to your hearing is to reduce 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. Everyone uses them all the time, not only kids. So we have to recognize 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.
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 attempt to drown out loud noises with even louder noises and of course wearing ear protection. For 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 damaging levels. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you have any questions.