Despite common belief, hearing loss is not just a problem for the elderly. While age is a strong predictor of hearing loss, overall hearing loss has been on the rise. Hearing loss stays at around 14-16% among adults 20 to 69 years old. World wide, more than 1 billion people between the ages of 12-35 are in danger of getting hearing loss, as reported by the united nations and The World Health Organization. In children between 6 and 19, about 15% already have loss of hearing as reported by the CDC, and the number seems to be closer to 17% based on more recent research. Just 10 years ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower as reported by another study. Even worse, a study conducted by Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and estimates that by 2060 around 73 million people over the age of 65 will have loss of hearing. That’s a staggering increase over current numbers.
We Are Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
We usually consider hearing loss as a result of aging as it would develop slowly over years unless you spent extended amounts of time in a noisy environment. This is why when you’re grandfather uses a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. But changes in our way of life are affecting our hearing at a younger and younger age.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. We are doing what we like to do: listening to music, chatting with friends, watching movies and using earbuds or headphones to do it all. The issue is that we have no idea what level of volume (and what duration of that volume) is harmful to our ears. Occasionally we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily exposing our ears to damaging levels of sound instead of safeguarding them.
Slowly but surely, an entire generation of young people are harming their ears. 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?
Avoiding extremely loud sounds is something that even young kids are usually wise enough to do. But it isn’t generally understood what hearing loss is about. It’s not usually known that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can harm hearing.
Needless to say, the majority of people around the world, particularly young people, aren’t really concerned about the hazards of hearing loss because they think that it’s only an aging problem.
According to the WHO, people in this 12-35-year-old age group may be exposing their ears to permanent damage.
Solutions And Suggestions
The issue is especially widespread because so many of us are using smart devices on a regular basis. That’s why some hearing professionals have recommended solutions that focus on providing mobile device users with additional information:
- It’s how long a sound lasts, not only how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a specific decibel level for too long).
- Built-in parental settings that let parents more closely monitor volume and adjust for hearing health.
- Extreme-volume warnings.
And that’s just the start. There are a lot of technological methods to get us to begin to pay more attention to the health of our hearing.
Reduce The Volume
The most important way to minimize damage to your hearing is to minimize the volume at which you listen to your mobile device. That’s true whether you’re 15, 35, or 70.
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 recognize that hearing loss has as much to do with technology as it does with aging.
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 certain not to attempt to drown out loud noises with even louder noises and of course wearing ear protection. If you drive with the window down, for instance, the noise from the wind and traffic could already be at a damaging level so don’t crank up the radio to drown it out. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, come talk to us.