Hearing loss isn’t simply an issue for the elderly, despite the common belief. While age is a reliable 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 recommend that more than 1 billion people worldwide age 12-35 are in danger of developing loss of hearing. In children between 6 and 19, about 15% already have hearing loss as reported by the CDC, and the number seems to be closer to 17% based on more recent research. Other reports say hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers over just a decade ago. Johns Hopkins conducted a study predicting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have loss of hearing. That’s an astounding increase over current numbers.
Why Are we Developing Hearing Loss Earlier?
We often think about hearing loss as a side effect of aging because it would develop slowly over years unless you spent extended time periods in a loud setting. This is the reason why when you’re grandmother uses 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 it’s talking to 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 damaging volume or how long it takes to do damage and that’s an issue. Sometimes we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily subjecting our ears to harmful levels of sound instead of protecting them.
Little by little, an entire generation of young people are damaging their hearing. That’s a huge problem, one that’s going to cost billions of dollars in terms of treatment and loss of productivity in the economy.
Loss of hearing is Misunderstood
Even young children are usually smart enough to avoid incredibly loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t generally understood. It’s not commonly recognized that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can harm hearing.
But hearing loss is generally 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 an especially extensive problem. That’s the reason why some hearing specialists have suggested answers that focus on offering mobile device users with additional information:
- Warnings about high volume.
- Modifications 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 start. Paying more attention to the health of our ears, plenty of technological possibilities exist.
Reduce The Volume
The most significant way to minimize damage to your ears is to decrease the volume at which you listen to your mobile device. Whether your 15, 35, or 70, that holds true.
And there is no disputing the fact that smartphones are not going away. Everyone uses them all the time, not only kids. So we have to come to terms with the fact that hearing loss is no longer associated with aging, it’s associated with technology.
Which means we’re going to need to change the way we talk about, prevent, and deal with hearing loss.
You should also try downloading an app that measures decibel levels in your environment. 2 steps to protect your hearing. Making certain not to try to drown out loud noises with even louder noises and of course wearing ear protection. For instance, if you drive with your windows down, don’t crank up the music to hear it better, the noise from the wind and traffic may already be at damaging levels. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional if you have any questions.