Hearing Loss is Not an Age Issue, Here’s Why
Hearing loss isn’t only a problem for older people, despite the common belief. In general hearing loss is becoming more prominent despite the fact that age is still a strong factor. Amongst 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 states that nearly 15% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 currently have loss of hearing and more recent research puts that number closer to 17%. Just 10 years ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower according to another report. Johns Hopkins conducted a study projecting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have hearing loss. That’s an astounding increase over current numbers.
What’s Causing Us to Develop Hearing Loss at a Younger Age?
We usually consider hearing loss as a result of aging because it would develop slowly over years unless you spent extended amounts of time in a loud setting. This is the reason why when you’re grandfather uses a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. But at a younger and younger age, our hearing is being effected by changes of lifestyle.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. Whether it’s chatting with friends, listening to tunes, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we enjoy doing and wearing earbuds for all of it. The problem is that we have no idea what level of volume (and what duration of that volume) is damaging to our ears. Occasionally we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily exposing our ears to harmful levels of sound instead of protecting them.
Little by little, an entire generation of young people are damaging their ears. In terms of loss of productivity, that’s a big concern and one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment.
Loss of hearing is Misunderstood
Even young children are usually sensible enough to stay away from extremely loud noises. But it isn’t generally understood what hearing loss is about. The majority of people won’t recognize that medium intensity sounds can also damage your hearing if exposed for longer time periods.
But hearing loss is commonly associated with aging so the majority of people, particularly younger people, don’t even think about it.
However, the WHO says irreversible ear damage could be happening to those in this 12-35 age group.
Due to the fact that so many people utilize smart devices regularly, it’s an especially widespread issue. That’s the reason why providing additional information to mobile device users has been a suggested answer by some hearing specialists:
- Warnings when you listen too long at a specific decibel level (it’s not simply the volume of a sound that can lead to damage it’s how long the noise lasts).
- Modifications of volume for hearing health can be made by parents by employing built in parental control settings.
- Extreme-volume warnings.
And that’s only the start. There are a lot of technological methods to get us to begin to pay more attention to the health of our hearing.
Reduce The Volume
The most important way to mitigate injury to your hearing is to minimize the volume at which you listen to your mobile device. Whether your 15, 35, or 70, that holds true.
Let’s be honest, smartphones aren’t going anywhere. Everyone uses them all the time, not just kids. So we have to understand 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 example, the noise from the wind and traffic might already be at a damaging level so don’t crank up the radio to drown it out. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional if you have any questions.