Loss of hearing isn’t simply a problem for older people, in spite of the common belief. While age is a strong predictor of hearing loss, overall hearing loss has been on the rise. Hearing loss stays at around 14-16% among adults 20 to 69 years old. The World Health Organization and the United Nations recommend that more than 1 billion people globally age 12-35 are at risk of developing hearing loss. In children between 6 and 19, nearly 15% already have loss of hearing according to the CDC, and the number seems to be closer to 17% based on current research. Just 10 years ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower according to another report. Even worse, a study from Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and estimates that by 2060 approximately 73 million people above the age of 65 will have loss of hearing. Over current numbers, that’s an astounding number.
What’s Causing Us to Develop Hearing Loss at a Younger Age?
We tend to consider hearing loss as a side effect of aging as it would progress slowly over years unless you spent extended amounts of time in a noisy environment. This is why when you’re grandfather wears a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. But at a younger and younger age, our hearing is being effected by changes of ways of life.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. Whether you’re talking to friends, listening to tunes, 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 harmful sound level or how long it takes to do damage and that’s problematic. Instead of taking steps to safeguard our ears, we often even use earbuds to drown out loud noise, purposely subjecting our ears to harmful noise levels.
Gradually, a whole generation of young people are damaging their ears. That’s a huge problem, one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment and loss of economic productivity.
Loss of hearing is Not Well Understood
Keeping away from extremely loud noises is something that even young kids are generally wise enough to do. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t popularly grasped. It’s not generally known that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can damage hearing.
But hearing loss is commonly associated with aging so most people, particularly younger people, aren’t even concerned with it.
However, the WHO says permanent ear damage could be occurring in those in this 12-35 age group.
Because so many people use smart devices regularly, it’s a particularly extensive issue. That’s why offering additional information to mobile device users has been a suggested answer by some hearing professionals:
- Adjustments of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by employing built in parental control settings.
- Warnings when you listen too long at a specific decibel level (it’s not simply the volume of a sound that can result in damage it’s how long the noise persists).
- Alerts about high volume.
And that’s just the start. There are plenty of technological ways to get us to begin to pay more attention to the health of our hearing.
Turn The Volume Down
The most significant way to minimize damage to your hearing is to minimize the volume of your mobile device. Whether your 15, 35, or 70, that holds true.
Let’s be honest, smartphones aren’t going anywhere. It’s not only kids that are attached to them, it’s everyone. So we’ve got to come to terms with the fact that hearing loss 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. 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 may already be at harmful levels. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, come talk to us.