Loss of hearing isn’t just a problem for older people, despite the common idea. 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 recommend that more than 1 billion people globally aged 12-35 are at risk of getting hearing loss. The CDC says nearly 15% of children between 6 and 19 already have hearing loss and more recent research indicates that that number is closer to 17%. Only a decade ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower according to another report. Johns Hopkins carried out a study projecting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have loss of hearing. That’s an astounding increase over current numbers.
Why Are we Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age?
We often 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 the reason why when you’re grandmother wears a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. But at a younger and younger age, our hearing is being effected by changes of lifestyle.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. We are doing what we enjoy doing: 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 problematic. Sometimes we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily subjecting our ears to harmful levels of sound instead of safeguarding them.
There’s an entire generation of young people around the world who are gradually injuring their ability to hear. That’s a huge problem, one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment and loss of productivity in the economy.
Hearing Loss is Misunderstood
Avoiding very loud noises is something that even young kids are generally smart enough to do. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t commonly grasped. It’s not usually recognized that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can harm hearing.
Needless to say, most people around the world, specifically young people, aren’t really concerned about the risks of hearing loss because they associate it with aging.
However, the WHO says permanent ear damage may be happening to those in this 12-35 age group.
The problem is especially widespread because so many of us are using smart devices on a regular basis. That’s why many hearing professionals have recommended answers that focus on offering mobile device users with additional information:
- Built-in parental controls which allow parents to more closely monitor volume and adjust for hearing health.
- High-volume warnings.
- It’s how long a sound persists, not only how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a specific decibel for too long).
And that’s just the start. Paying more attention to the health of our ears, many technological solutions exist.
Reduce The Volume
The most significant way to mitigate injury to your hearing is to decrease 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 just 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 associated with aging, it’s associated with technology.
That means we’re going to need to change the way we discuss, prevent, and treat hearing loss.
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 certain you’re not doing things such as trying to drown out noises with even louder noises. If you drive with the window down, for example, the noise from the wind and traffic may already be at a damaging level so don’t turn up the radio to drown it out. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, come talk to us.