Loss of hearing isn’t just an issue for the elderly, in spite of the common idea. While age is a strong predictor of hearing loss, overall hearing loss has been on the rise. Among 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 worldwide age 12-35 are at risk of developing loss of hearing. The CDC says nearly 15% of children between 6 and 19 already have loss of hearing and more recent research indicates that that number is closer to 17%. Just 10 years ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower as reported by another study. Worse still, a study from Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and estimates that by 2060 about 73 million people above the age of 65 will have loss of hearing. Over current numbers, that’s a staggering number.
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 time periods in a loud environment. That’s the reason why you aren’t surprised when your grandfather wears a hearing aid. 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. Whether you’re talking to friends, listening to music, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we enjoy doing and using earbuds for all of it. Most people have no idea what is a damaging sound level or how long it takes to do damage and that’s a problem. Occasionally we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily exposing our ears to harmful levels of sound instead of protecting them.
There’s a whole generation of young people around the world who are slowly but surely injuring their hearing. That’s a huge concern, one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment and loss of productivity in the economy.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Even young children are usually smart enough to avoid extremely loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t widely understood. It’s not commonly known 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 thinking about the dangers of hearing loss because they think that it’s only an aging problem.
However, the WHO says permanent ear damage could be happening to those in this 12-35 age group.
Solutions And Recommendations
The issue is especially widespread because so many of us are using smart devices on a regular basis. That’s why some hearing specialists have suggested answers that focus on offering mobile device users with additional information:
- Warnings when you listen too long at a high decibel level (it’s not only the volume of a sound that can result in damage it’s how long the noise persists).
- Adjustments of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by employing built in parental control settings.
- High-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.
Turn Down The Volume
If you decrease the volume of your mobile device it will be the most important way to minimize injury to your hearing. 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 we’re going to need to change the way we talk about, prevent, and deal with 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 try to drown out loud noises with even louder noises and of course wearing ear protection. If you drive with the window down, for example, the noise from the wind and traffic might already be at a harmful level so don’t crank up the radio to drown it out. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional if you have any questions.