Despite common belief, hearing loss is not only an issue for the elderly. While age is a reliable predictor of hearing loss, overall hearing loss has been rising. Hearing loss remains at about 14-16% among adults 20 to 69 years of age. The World Health Organization and the United Nations suggests that more than 1 billion people worldwide age 12-35 are at risk of developing hearing loss. In children between the ages of 6 and 19, nearly 15% already have hearing loss according to the CDC, and the number appears to be closer to 17% according to current research. Other reports say hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers over just 10 years ago. Even worse, a study from Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and forecasts that by 2060 around 73 million people over the age of 65 will have hearing loss. Over current numbers, that’s an astounding number.
We Are Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
We usually think about hearing loss as a side effect of aging as it would develop slowly over years unless you spent extended time periods in a noisy environment. That’s the reason why you aren’t surprised when your grandmother uses 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 wearing earbuds or headphones 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 safeguard our ears, we even regularly use earbuds to drown out loud sound, voluntarily subjecting our ears to hazardous noise levels.
Gradually, a whole generation of young people are harming their ears. In terms of loss of productivity, that’s a big concern and one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment.
Hearing Loss is Not Well Understood
Even young kids are usually smart enough to avoid extremely loud noises. But it isn’t popularly understood what hearing loss is about. The majority of people aren’t going to recognize that medium intensity sounds can also damage your hearing if the exposure is long enough.
But hearing loss is generally associated with aging so the majority of people, specifically younger people, aren’t even concerned with it.
However, the WHO says permanent ear damage might 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 the reason why providing additional information to mobile device users has been a recommended answer 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 particular decibel for too long).
- Built-in parental controls that allow parents to more closely supervise volume and adjust for hearing health.
And that’s only the start. Paying more attention to the health of our hearing, many technological solutions exist.
Turn The Volume Down
If you decrease the volume of your mobile device it will be the most important way to mitigate injury to your ears. Whether your 15, 35, or 70, that holds true.
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 realize that hearing loss has as much to do with technology as it does with aging.
That means the way we prevent, treat, and talk about hearing loss has to change.
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 trying to drown out noises with even louder noises. As an example, if you drive with your windows down, don’t turn up the music to hear it better, the noise from the wind and traffic may already be at harmful levels. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist if you have any questions.