Loss of hearing isn’t only an issue for older people, in spite of the common idea. Overall hearing loss is on the rise despite the fact that how old you are is still a strong factor. Hearing loss stays at around 14-16% amongst adults 20 to 69 years old. The World Health Organization and the United Nations recommend that more than 1 billion people worldwide aged 12-35 are at risk of getting loss of hearing. The CDC states that roughly 15% of children between 6 and 19 already have hearing loss and more recent research puts that number closer to 17%. Only 10 years ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower as reported by another report. Johns Hopkins conducted a study predicting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have loss of hearing. Over current numbers, that’s an astounding number.
We Are Getting Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
We often think about hearing loss as a side effect of aging as it would develop slowly over years unless you spent extended amounts of time in a loud environment. That’s the reason why you aren’t surprised when your grandmother wears 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. We are doing what we like to do: listening to music, chatting with friends, watching movies and wearing earbuds or headphones to do it all. The problem is that we have no idea how loud (and for how long) is damaging to our ears. Instead of doing our best to safeguard our ears, we even regularly use earbuds to drown out loud noise, voluntarily exposing our ears to harmful sound levels.
Slowly but surely, an entire generation of young people are damaging their hearing. In terms of loss of productivity, that’s a big concern and one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment.
Hearing Loss is Misunderstood
Even young kids are usually wise enough to stay away from incredibly loud noises. But it isn’t well understood what hearing loss is about. It’s not generally recognized that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can injure hearing.
Needless to say, most people around the world, particularly young people, aren’t really concerned about the risks 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 could be exposing their ears to permanent damage.
Solutions And Suggestions
The problem is particularly widespread because so many of us are using smart devices on a regular basis. That’s why offering additional information to mobile device users has been a recommended answer by some hearing professionals:
- Warnings when you listen too long at a high decibel level (it’s not just the volume of a sound that can lead to damage it’s how long the noise lasts).
- High-volume warnings.
- Built-in parental settings which let parents more closely supervise volume and adjust for hearing health.
And that’s just the beginning. Paying more attention to the health of our ears, plenty of technological solutions exist.
Reduce The Volume
If you decrease the volume of your mobile device it will be the most important way to minimize injury 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 realize 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 sure you’re not doing things such as trying to drown out noises with even louder noises. 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.