Hearing loss isn’t just a problem for the elderly, despite the common idea. Overall hearing loss is becoming more prominent despite the fact that age is still a strong factor. Amongst adults aged 20 to 69 loss of hearing hovers in the 14-16% range. The World Health Organization and the United Nations recommend that more than 1 billion people globally age 12-35 are in danger of getting hearing loss. In children between 6 and 19, around 15% already have loss of hearing as reported by the CDC, and the number appears to be closer to 17% based on current research. Only 10 years ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower as reported by another study. Even worse, a study conducted by Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and estimates that by 2060 around 73 million people over the age of 65 will have hearing loss. Over current numbers, that’s an astounding number.
Why Are we Developing Hearing Loss Earlier?
In the past, if you didn’t spend your days in a loud and noisy surrounding, damage to your hearing would happen relatively slowly, so we think about it as a side effect of aging. That’s the reason why you aren’t surprised when your grandfather wears a hearing aid. 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. We are doing what we like to do: listening to music, chatting with friends, watching movies and using earbuds or headphones to do it all. Most people have no clue what is a harmful sound level or how long it takes to do damage and that’s an issue. Sometimes we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily subjecting our ears to damaging levels of sound instead of safeguarding them.
There’s a whole generation of young people around the world who are slowly but surely 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
Keeping away from very loud sounds is something that even young kids are usually sensible enough to do. But it isn’t commonly understood what hearing loss is about. Most people won’t know that medium intensity noises can also damage your hearing if exposed for longer time periods.
But hearing loss is normally associated with aging so the majority of people, especially young people, aren’t even concerned with it.
According to the WHO, individuals in this 12-35-year-old age group could be exposing their ears to irreversible damage.
Options And Recommendations
The issue is especially widespread because so many of us are using smart devices regularly. That’s why many hearing professionals have recommended answers that focus on providing mobile device users with additional information:
- Modifications of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by employing 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).
- Warnings about high volume.
And that’s just the beginning. Paying more attention to the health of our hearing, plenty of technological solutions exist.
Turn Down The Volume
The most significant way to mitigate damage to your ears is to decrease 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’ve got to deal with the fact that loss of hearing is no longer linked to aging, it’s associated with technology.
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. Making sure not to attempt to drown out loud noises with even louder noises and of course using ear protection. If you drive with the window down, for instance, 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. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, schedule a hearing exam.