Hearing loss isn’t just an issue for the elderly, despite the prevalent idea. In general 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 stays in the 14-16% range. World wide, more than 1 billion people from the ages of 12-35 are in danger of developing hearing loss, according to the united nations and The World Health Organization. The CDC says roughly 15% of children between 6 and 19 already have loss of hearing and the latest research indicates that that number is closer to 17%. Other reports say hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers from only 10 years ago. Johns Hopkins carried out a study predicting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have hearing loss. Over current numbers, that’s a staggering number.
We Are Getting Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
We tend to think about hearing loss as a side effect of aging because it would develop slowly over years unless you spent extended amounts of time in a loud environment. This is the reason why when you’re grandmother wears a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. But changes in our lifestyle are impacting our hearing younger and younger.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. Whether you’re chatting with 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 clue what is a damaging sound level or how long it takes to do damage and that’s an issue. Instead of taking steps to protect our ears, we even regularly use earbuds to drown out loud noise, purposely subjecting our ears to dangerous noise levels.
Little by little, an entire generation of young people are damaging their ears. In terms of loss of productivity, that’s a huge concern and one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment.
Hearing Loss is Not Well Understood
Even young kids are usually sensible enough to avoid extremely loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t widely understood. Most people won’t recognize that medium intensity sounds can also damage your hearing if exposed for longer time periods.
But hearing loss is generally associated with aging so most people, especially young people, don’t even think about it.
However, the WHO says irreversible ear damage could be occurring in those in this 12-35 age group.
Options And Suggestions
The problem is particularly widespread because so many of us are using smart devices regularly. That’s why offering additional information to mobile device users has been a recommended solution by some hearing experts:
- Built-in parental settings that allow parents to more closely monitor volume and adjust for hearing health.
- High-volume warnings.
- 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 sound lasts).
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 minimize 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.
Let’s be honest, smartphones aren’t going anywhere. It’s not only kids that are addicted 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 the way we prevent, treat, and talk about hearing loss has to change.
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. 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 could already be at harmful levels. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional if you have any questions.