Loss of hearing isn’t only a problem for older people, despite the common idea. While age is a reliable predictor of hearing loss, overall hearing loss has been rising. 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 worldwide age 12-35 are at risk of getting loss of hearing. In children between 6 and 19, nearly 15% already have hearing loss according to the CDC, and the number appears to be closer to 17% based on current research. Other reports say hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers from only a decade ago. What’s more, a study from Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and forecasts that by 2060 approximately 73 million people above the age of 65 will have hearing loss. Over current numbers, that’s an astounding number.
We Are Getting Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
We tend to consider hearing loss as a result of aging because it would progress slowly over years unless you spent extended time periods in a noisy environment. This is why when you’re grandfather uses a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. 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 music, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we love to do and using earbuds for all of it. Most people have no idea what is a damaging sound level or how long it takes to do damage and that’s problematic. Instead of taking steps to safeguard our ears, we even regularly use earbuds to drown out loud sound, purposely exposing our ears to dangerous sound levels.
Little by little, a whole generation of young people are harming their ears. 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 Not Well Understood
Even young children are usually sensible enough to avoid incredibly loud noises. 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 damage hearing.
But hearing loss is commonly associated with aging so most people, particularly young people, don’t even think about it.
According to the WHO, individuals in this 12-35-year-old age group could be exposing their ears to permanent damage.
Because so many people use smart devices regularly, it’s a particularly extensive problem. That’s the reason why providing additional information to mobile device users has been a recommended solution by some hearing professionals:
- High-volume alerts.
- It’s how long a sound lasts, not just how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a specific decibel for too long).
- Built-in parental controls which allow parents to more closely supervise volume and adjust for hearing health.
And that’s just the beginning. Paying more attention to the health of our ears, plenty of technological solutions exist.
Turn The Volume Down
The most significant way to mitigate damage to your ears is to reduce the volume at which you listen to your mobile device. That’s true whether you’re 15, 35, or 70.
And there is no arguing the fact that smartphones are not going away. Everyone uses them all the time, not only kids. So we have to recognize that hearing loss has as much to do with technology as it does with aging.
That means we need to change the way we discuss, 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 certain not to attempt 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 damaging level so don’t crank up the radio to drown it out. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you have any questions.