Why Hearing Loss is Not an Age Problem
In spite of popular belief, hearing loss is not only a problem for older people. While age is a strong predictor of hearing loss, overall hearing loss has been rising. Amongst adults aged 20 to 69 loss of hearing stays in the 14-16% range. Globally, more than 1 billion people from the ages of 12-35 are at risk of developing hearing loss, as reported by the united nations and The World Health Organization. In children between 6 and 19, about 15% already have hearing loss according to the CDC, and the number appears to be closer to 17% according to more recent research. Other reports state that hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers over just a decade ago. Johns Hopkins conducted a study projecting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have loss of hearing. Over current numbers, that’s an astounding number.
We Are Getting Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
We often consider hearing loss as a result of aging as it would progress slowly over years unless you spent extended amounts of time 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 love to do: listening to music, chatting with friends, watching movies and using earbuds or headphones to do it all. Most people have no clue what is a harmful sound level or how long it takes to do damage and that’s a problem. Instead of doing our best to protect our ears, we often even use earbuds to drown out loud noise, voluntarily subjecting our ears to hazardous sound levels.
Gradually, an entire generation of young people are harming their hearing. In terms of loss of productivity, that’s a big problem and one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Even young kids are usually smart enough to avoid extremely loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t popularly understood. Most people won’t recognize that medium intensity sounds can also damage your hearing if the exposure is long enough.
Of course, most people around the world, specifically young people, aren’t really thinking about the risks of hearing loss because they think that it’s only an aging problem.
According to the WHO, those in this 12-35-year-old age group might be exposing their ears to permanent damage.
Due to the fact that so many people utilize smart devices frequently, it’s an especially extensive problem. That’s the reason why offering additional information to mobile device users has been a suggested solution by some hearing specialists:
- It’s how long a sound persists, not only how loud it is (warnings when you listen at a particular decibel level for too long).
- Built-in parental settings that allow parents to more closely supervise volume and adjust for hearing health.
- Warnings about high volume.
And that’s just the start. There are plenty of technological methods to get us to start paying more attention to the health of our hearing.
Turn The Volume Down
If you reduce the volume of your mobile device it will be the most significant way to mitigate injury to your hearing. Whether your 15, 35, or 70, that holds true.
And there is no arguing the fact that smartphones are not going away. It’s not only kids that are addicted to them, it’s everyone. So we have to recognize 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. 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 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, come talk to us.