In spite of common belief, hearing loss isn’t just a problem for seniors. Overall hearing loss is becoming more prominent despite the fact that age is still a strong factor. Among adults aged 20 to 69 loss of hearing hovers in the 14-16% range. Globally, more than 1 billion people between the ages of 12-35 are in danger of developing hearing loss, according to the united nations and The World Health Organization. In children between the ages of 6 and 19, around 15% already have hearing loss as reported by the CDC, and the number appears to be closer to 17% based on current research. Only 10 years ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower as reported by another study. Worse still, 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. Over current numbers, that’s an astounding number.
We Are Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
We tend to think about hearing loss as a result of aging because it would develop slowly over years unless you spent extended amounts of time in a noisy setting. This is the reason why when you’re grandfather uses a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. But changes in our lifestyle are impacting 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 tunes, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we love to do and wearing earbuds for all of it. Most people have no clue what is a harmful volume or how long it takes to do damage and that’s an issue. 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.
Little by little, an entire generation of young people are harming their hearing. In terms of loss of productivity, that’s a big problem and one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Even young children are usually sensible enough to avoid extremely loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t generally grasped. It’s not generally recognized that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can injure hearing.
Needless to say, the majority of people around the world, particularly young people, aren’t really thinking about the hazards of hearing loss because they associate it with aging.
According to the WHO, individuals in this 12-35-year-old age group may be exposing their ears to irreversible damage.
Solutions And Suggestions
Because so many people use smart devices frequently, it’s a particularly extensive issue. That’s why many hearing specialists have recommended answers that focus on providing mobile device users with additional information:
- Warnings when you listen too long at a high decibel level (it’s not simply the volume of a sound that can cause damage it’s how long the sound persists).
- High-volume warnings.
- Built-in parental settings which let parents more closely supervise volume and adjust for hearing health.
And that’s just the start. Paying more attention to the health of our ears, many technological solutions exist.
Turn The Volume Down
If you reduce the volume of your mobile device it will be the most important way to mitigate damage to your ears. 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 just kids. So we have to come to terms with the fact that loss of hearing is no longer associated with aging, it’s associated with technology.
Which means we’re going to 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 using ear protection. As an example, if you drive with your windows down, don’t turn up the music to hear it better, the noise from the wind and traffic may already be at harmful levels. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional if you have any questions.