Hearing loss isn’t only a problem for the elderly, in spite of the prevalent belief. While age is a reliable predictor of hearing loss, as a whole hearing loss has been rising. Hearing loss remains at about 14-16% among adults 20 to 69 years old. Globally, more than 1 billion people between the ages of 12-35 are in danger of developing hearing loss, according to the united nations and The World Health Organization. In children between 6 and 19, around 15% already have loss of hearing according to the CDC, and the number seems to be closer to 17% according to more recent research. Only 10 years ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower as reported by another study. Even worse, a study from Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and forecasts that by 2060 about 73 million people above the age of 65 will have loss of hearing. That’s an astounding increase over current numbers.
What’s Causing Us to Develop Hearing Loss at a Younger Age?
In the past, if you didn’t spend your days in a loud and noisy environment, damage to your hearing would happen fairly slowly, so we consider it as a side effect of getting older. That’s why you aren’t surprised when your grandmother uses a hearing aid. But changes in our lifestyle are affecting our hearing at a younger and younger age.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. Whether it’s chatting with friends, listening to tunes, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we love to do and using earbuds for all of it. The issue is that we have no idea 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 harmful noise levels.
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 terms of treatment and loss of economic productivity.
Loss of hearing is Misunderstood
Keeping away from very loud sounds is something that even young children are usually wise enough to do. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t generally understood. It’s not usually recognized that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can harm hearing.
Of course, most people around the world, especially young people, aren’t really concerned about the risks 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.
The problem is especially widespread because so many of us are using smart devices regularly. That’s the reason why offering additional information to mobile device users has been a suggested solution by some hearing professionals:
- Warnings when you listen too long at a specific decibel level (it’s not only the volume of a sound that can lead to damage it’s how long the noise lasts).
- Alterations of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by employing built in parental control settings.
- Extreme-volume alerts.
And that’s only the start. Paying more attention to the health of our hearing, plenty of technological possibilities exist.
Reduce The Volume
If you reduce the volume of your mobile device it will be the most significant way to mitigate damage to your ears. 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 come to terms with the fact that loss of hearing is no longer linked to aging, it’s associated with technology.
That means we need to change the way we discuss, prevent, and deal with hearing loss.
You should also try downloading an app that measures decibel levels in your environment. 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 may already be at a harmful level so don’t turn up the radio to drown it out. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you have any questions.