Why Hearing Loss is Not an Age Problem
Hearing loss isn’t just an issue for older people, despite the prevalent idea. Overall hearing loss is becoming more prominent in spite of the fact that how old you are is still a strong factor. 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 globally aged 12-35 are in danger of developing loss of hearing. The CDC states that roughly 15% of children between 6 and 19 already have loss of hearing and the latest research indicates that that number is closer to 17%. Just a decade ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower according to another report. Johns Hopkins conducted 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.
What’s Causing Us to Develop Hearing Loss Earlier?
We often think about hearing loss as a side effect of aging as it would develop slowly over years unless you spent extended amounts of time in a noisy setting. That’s why you aren’t surprised when your grandmother wears 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. Whether it’s talking to friends, listening to music, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we enjoy doing and using earbuds to do it all. Most people have no clue what is a damaging sound level or how long it takes to do damage and that’s a problem. Instead of taking steps to safeguard our ears, we often even use earbuds to drown out loud sound, purposely exposing our ears to hazardous noise levels.
There’s an entire generation of young people everywhere 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 Misunderstood
Even young kids are usually wise enough to avoid extremely loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t popularly understood. The majority of people aren’t going to know that medium intensity sounds can also damage your hearing if the exposure is long enough.
But hearing loss is commonly associated with aging so most people, particularly younger people, aren’t even concerned with it.
However, the WHO says irreversible ear damage could be occurring in those in this 12-35 age group.
The problem is particularly widespread because so many of us are using smart devices regularly. That’s why many hearing professionals have suggested solutions that focus on offering mobile device users with additional information:
- Warnings about high volume.
- It’s how long a sound lasts, not only how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a particular decibel level for too long).
- Built-in parental controls that let parents more closely monitor volume and adjust for hearing health.
And that’s only the beginning. Paying more attention to the health of our hearing, many technological possibilities exist.
Turn Down The Volume
The most important way to minimize damage to your hearing is to reduce the volume at which you listen to your mobile device. Whether your 15, 35, or 70, that holds true.
Let’s face it, smartphones aren’t going anywhere. Everyone uses them all the time, not only kids. So we have to recognize that hearing loss has as much to do with technology as it does with aging.
Which means we 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. Making certain 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 instance, the noise from the wind and traffic might already be at a harmful level so don’t turn up the radio to drown it out. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, come talk to us.