Despite common opinion, hearing loss is not just a problem for older people. While age is a strong predictor of hearing loss, overall hearing loss has been rising. 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 globally aged 12-35 are at risk of getting hearing loss. In children between 6 and 19, nearly 15% already have loss of hearing as reported by the CDC, and the number appears to be closer to 17% according to current research. Other reports say hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers over only a decade ago. Johns Hopkins conducted a study predicting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have hearing loss. That’s a staggering increase over current numbers.
We Are Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
It used to be that, if you didn’t spend your days in a loud and noisy surrounding, damage to your hearing would develop fairly slowly, so we think about it as an inevitable outcome of aging. That’s why you aren’t surprised when your grandmother wears 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. We are doing what we love to do: chatting with friends, listening to music, watching movies and using earbuds or headphones for all of it. The problem is that we have no clue what level of volume (and what duration of that volume) is damaging to our hearing. Instead of doing our best to protect our ears, we even regularly use earbuds to drown out loud noise, voluntarily subjecting our ears to dangerous sound levels.
Gradually, an entire generation of young people are harming their hearing. That’s a big problem, one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment and loss of economic productivity.
Hearing Loss is Not Well Understood
Even young children are usually sensible enough to stay away from incredibly loud noises. But it isn’t generally understood what hearing loss is about. The majority of people aren’t going to know that medium intensity noises can also damage your hearing if exposed for longer time periods.
But hearing loss is generally associated with aging so most people, particularly younger 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 widespread issue. That’s why providing additional information to mobile device users has been a suggested answer by some hearing professionals:
- Warnings about high volume.
- 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 just the beginning. There are plenty of technological methods to get us to begin to pay more attention to the health of our hearing.
Turn Down The Volume
If you minimize the volume of your mobile device it will be the most important way to mitigate damage to your ears. That’s true whether you’re 15, 35, or 70.
Let’s be honest, smartphones aren’t going anywhere. Everyone uses them all the time, not only kids. So we’ve got to come to terms with the fact that loss of hearing is no longer linked to aging, it’s associated with technology.
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 like trying to drown out noises with even louder noises. For instance, if you drive with your windows down, don’t crank up the music to hear it better, the noise from the wind and traffic may already be at damaging levels. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, come talk to us.