Hearing Loss is Not an Age Problem, Here’s Why
Despite popular opinion, hearing loss isn’t only a problem for the elderly. While age is a reliable predictor of hearing loss, as a whole hearing loss has been on the rise. Among adults aged 20 to 69 loss of hearing hovers in the 14-16% range. The World Health Organization and the United Nations recommend that more than 1 billion people worldwide aged 12-35 are in danger of developing hearing loss. The CDC says nearly 15% of children between 6 and 19 already have loss of hearing and the latest research puts that number closer to 17%. Only a decade ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower according to another report. Worse still, a study from Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and forecasts that by 2060 approximately 73 million people above the age of 65 will have loss of hearing. That’s a staggering increase over current numbers.
We Are Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
We usually think about hearing loss as a result of aging as it would progress slowly over years unless you spent extended time periods in a noisy setting. This is the reason why when you’re grandmother wears a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. But changes in our lifestyle are affecting our hearing at a younger and younger age.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. We are doing what we enjoy doing: listening to music, chatting with friends, watching movies and wearing earbuds or headphones for all of it. The issue is that we have no idea how loud (and for how long) is harmful to our hearing. Occasionally we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily exposing our ears to damaging levels of sound instead of safeguarding them.
There’s an entire generation of young people around the world who are slowly but surely injuring their ability to hear. 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
Avoiding extremely loud sounds is something that even young children are usually sensible enough to do. But it isn’t widely understood what hearing loss is about. It’s not commonly recognized that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can damage hearing.
Of course, the majority of people around the world, particularly young people, aren’t really thinking about the dangers of hearing loss because they think that it’s only an aging problem.
However, the WHO says permanent ear damage could be occurring in those in this 12-35 age group.
Options And Recommendations
Because so many people utilize smart devices regularly, it’s an especially extensive problem. That’s the reason why many hearing specialists have suggested answers that focus on offering mobile device users with additional information:
- Warnings when you listen too long at a specific decibel level (it’s not simply the volume of a sound that can cause damage it’s how long the sound persists).
- Alerts about high volume.
- Built-in parental settings 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 ears, plenty of technological solutions exist.
Reduce The Volume
If you minimize 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.
After all, smartphones aren’t going anywhere. Everyone uses them all the time, not just kids. So we have to deal with the fact that loss of hearing is no longer linked to 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. Ear protection is one way but also making sure you’re not doing things such as 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 damaging levels. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional if you have any questions.