Hearing loss isn’t just a problem for older people, despite the common belief. While age is a reliable predictor of hearing loss, overall hearing loss has been rising. Hearing loss remains at around 14-16% among adults 20 to 69 years old. The World Health Organization and the United Nations suggests that more than 1 billion people worldwide age 12-35 are in danger of developing hearing loss. In children between the ages of 6 and 19, nearly 15% already have loss of hearing as reported by the CDC, and the number appears to be closer to 17% based on more recent research. Only 10 years ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower as reported by another report. What’s more, a study conducted by Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and forecasts that by 2060 approximately 73 million people above the age of 65 will have hearing loss. Over current numbers, that’s a staggering number.
We Are Getting Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
In the past, unless you spent your days in a loud and noisy surrounding, damage to your hearing would happen rather slowly, so we think about it as an inevitable outcome of aging. That’s why you aren’t surprised when your grandmother uses a hearing aid. But changes in our way of life are affecting our hearing younger and younger.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. Whether it’s chatting with friends, listening to music, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we enjoy doing and using earbuds for all of it. The issue is that we have no idea how loud (and for how long) is harmful to our hearing. Sometimes 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 an entire generation of young people around the world who are slowly but surely injuring their hearing. That’s a big problem, one that’s going to cost billions of dollars in treatment and loss of productivity in the economy.
Hearing Loss is Not Well Understood
Even young kids are usually sensible enough to stay away from incredibly loud noises. But it isn’t well understood what hearing loss is about. The majority of people aren’t going to know that medium intensity sounds can also damage your hearing if the exposure is long enough.
Of course, the majority of people around the world, specifically young people, aren’t really concerned about the hazards of hearing loss because they associate it with aging.
However, the WHO says irreversible ear damage might be happening to those in this 12-35 age group.
Due to the fact that so many people utilize smart devices regularly, it’s a particularly widespread problem. That’s the reason why offering additional information to mobile device users has been a suggested solution by some hearing specialists:
- Warnings when you listen too long at a high decibel level (it’s not only the volume of a sound that can cause damage it’s how long the noise persists).
- Alerts about high volume.
- Built-in parental controls which let parents more closely supervise volume and adjust for hearing health.
And that’s only the beginning. Paying more attention to the health of our hearing, many technological solutions exist.
Reduce The Volume
The most important way to mitigate injury to your hearing is to minimize the volume at which you listen to your mobile device. Whether your 15, 35, or 70, that holds true.
Let’s face it, smartphones aren’t going anywhere. It’s not only kids that are attached to them, it’s everyone. 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. Ear protection is one way but also making sure you’re not doing things such as attempting to drown out noises with even louder noises. If you drive with the window down, for instance, the noise from the wind and traffic may 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.