In spite of common opinion, hearing loss is not only an issue for the elderly. In general hearing loss is becoming more prominent despite the fact that how old you are is still a strong factor. Hearing loss remains at about 14-16% among adults 20 to 69 years old. The World Health Organization and the United Nations recommend that more than 1 billion people worldwide aged 12-35 are at risk of getting hearing loss. The CDC says roughly 15% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 already have loss of hearing and the latest research puts that number closer to 17%. Other reports say hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers over just a decade ago. Johns Hopkins carried out a study projecting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have loss of hearing. That’s a staggering increase over current numbers.
We Are Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
We tend to consider hearing loss as a side effect of aging as it would progress slowly over years unless you spent extended time periods in a loud environment. This is why when you’re grandmother wears a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. But changes in our way of life are impacting our hearing younger and younger.
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 wearing earbuds for all of it. Most people have no clue what is a harmful sound level or how long it takes to do damage and that’s problematic. Instead of taking steps to protect our ears, we often even use earbuds to drown out loud sound, voluntarily subjecting our ears to harmful sound levels.
There’s an entire generation of young people around the world who are slowly but surely damaging their hearing. That’s a huge problem, one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment and loss of productivity in the economy.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Keeping away from very loud sounds is something that even young kids are usually smart enough to do. But it isn’t well understood what hearing loss is about. It’s not usually recognized that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can damage hearing.
But hearing loss is normally associated with aging so the majority of people, particularly young people, don’t even think about it.
However, the WHO says irreversible ear damage may be happening to those in this 12-35 age group.
Options And Recommendations
The issue is particularly widespread because so many of us are using smart devices regularly. That’s why some hearing professionals have suggested solutions that focus on providing mobile device users with additional information:
- High-volume warnings.
- Alterations of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by using built in parental control settings.
- It’s how long a sound lasts, not only how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a specified decibel level for too long).
And that’s just the beginning. There are a lot of technological ways to get us to start paying more attention to the health of our hearing.
Reduce The Volume
If you decrease the volume of your mobile device it will be the most significant way to mitigate injury to your hearing. Whether your 15, 35, or 70, that holds true.
Let’s be honest, smartphones aren’t going anywhere. It’s not only kids that are attached to them, it’s everyone. So we have to deal with the fact that hearing loss 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 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 sure you’re not doing things like attempting to drown out noises with even louder noises. If you drive with the window down, for instance, 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. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional if you have any questions.