Loss of hearing isn’t just an issue for the elderly, in spite of the common idea. In general hearing loss is on the rise in spite of the fact that age is still a strong factor. Hearing loss remains at about 14-16% amongst adults 20 to 69 years of age. The World Health Organization and the United Nations suggests that more than 1 billion people worldwide age 12-35 are in danger of developing loss of hearing. In children between the ages of 6 and 19, around 15% already have hearing loss as reported by the CDC, and the number seems to be closer to 17% according to more recent research. Other reports say hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers from just a decade ago. Johns Hopkins performed a study predicting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have hearing loss. That’s an astounding increase over current numbers.
We Are Getting Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
In the past, if you didn’t spend your days in a loud and noisy environment, damage to your hearing would happen rather slowly, so we think about it as an inevitable outcome of aging. This is why when you’re grandmother wears a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. 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 enjoy doing: listening to music, chatting with friends, watching movies and wearing earbuds or headphones to do it all. Most people have no idea what is a harmful volume or how long it takes to do damage and that’s a problem. Sometimes we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily subjecting our ears to harmful levels of sound instead of safeguarding them.
Little by little, an entire generation of young people are damaging their hearing. In terms of loss of productivity, that’s a huge problem and one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment.
Loss of hearing is Misunderstood
Even young children are usually sensible enough to stay away from extremely loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t popularly grasped. The majority of people aren’t going to recognize that medium intensity sounds can also damage your hearing if exposed for longer time periods.
But hearing loss is normally associated with aging so most people, particularly young people, don’t even think about it.
According to the WHO, people in this 12-35-year-old age group could be exposing their ears to permanent damage.
Due to the fact that so many people use smart devices regularly, it’s a particularly extensive problem. That’s why offering additional information to mobile device users has been a recommended answer by some hearing professionals:
- High-volume warnings.
- Adjustments of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by using built in parental control settings.
- It’s how long a sound lasts, not just how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a particular decibel level for too long).
And that’s only the beginning. There are plenty of technological methods to get us to begin to pay more attention to the well being of our hearing.
Turn Down The Volume
If you reduce the volume of your mobile device it will be the most significant way to mitigate damage to your hearing. That’s true whether you’re 15, 35, or 70.
And there is no arguing the fact that smartphones are not going away. It’s not just kids that are attached to them, it’s everyone. 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.
You should also try downloading an app that measures decibel levels in your environment. 2 steps to protect your hearing. Making sure not to attempt to drown out loud noises with even louder noises and of course using 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 harmful levels. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional if you have any questions.