Hearing loss isn’t just a problem for older people, despite the common belief. While age is a strong predictor of hearing loss, as a whole hearing loss has been rising. Among adults aged 20 to 69 hearing loss stays in the 14-16% range. The World Health Organization and the United Nations suggests that more than 1 billion people worldwide age 12-35 are at risk of developing loss of hearing. The CDC says nearly 15% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 already have loss of hearing and the latest research indicates that that number is closer to 17%. Just 10 years ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower according to another report. Johns Hopkins performed a study predicting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have hearing loss. That’s a staggering increase over current numbers.
We Are Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
We often 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 uses 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. We are doing what we enjoy doing: chatting with friends, listening to music, watching movies and using earbuds or headphones for all of it. Most people have no idea what is a harmful volume or how long it takes to do damage and that’s an issue. Instead of doing our best to safeguard our ears, we often even use earbuds to drown out loud sound, voluntarily exposing our ears to hazardous noise levels.
Gradually, a whole generation of young people are harming their ears. That’s a huge concern, one that’s going to cost billions of dollars in treatment and loss of economic productivity.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Keeping away from extremely loud noises is something that even young kids are usually wise enough to do. But it isn’t commonly understood what hearing loss is about. It’s not commonly known that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can damage hearing.
But hearing loss is generally associated with aging so the majority of people, especially younger people, aren’t even concerned with it.
According to the WHO, people in this 12-35-year-old age group could be exposing their ears to permanent damage.
The problem is especially widespread because so many of us are using smart devices on a regular basis. That’s why offering additional information to mobile device users has been a suggested answer by some hearing specialists:
- Built-in parental controls which allow parents to more closely monitor volume and adjust for hearing health.
- High-volume alerts.
- It’s how long a sound persists, not only how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a specific decibel level for too long).
And that’s only the start. Paying more attention to the health of our hearing, many technological solutions exist.
Turn Down The Volume
If you decrease the volume of your mobile device it will be the most important way to minimize damage to your hearing. That’s true whether you’re 15, 35, or 70.
Let’s be honest, smartphones aren’t going anywhere. Everyone uses them all the time, not just kids. So we have to come to terms with the fact that loss of hearing is no longer linked to aging, it’s associated with technology.
Which 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. Making sure 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 could already be at a damaging level so don’t crank up the radio to drown it out. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, schedule a hearing exam.