Why Hearing Loss is Not an Age Issue

Young woman suffering from hearing loss does not hear her friends.

In spite of common belief, hearing loss isn’t only a problem for seniors. In general hearing loss is becoming more prominent in spite of the fact that age is still a strong factor. Hearing loss remains at about 14-16% amongst adults 20 to 69 years old. World wide, more than 1 billion people between the ages of 12-35 are in danger of getting hearing loss, as reported by the united nations and The World Health Organization. In children between the ages of 6 and 19, nearly 15% already have loss of hearing according to the CDC, and the number appears to be closer to 17% according to more recent research. Just 10 years ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower according to another report. Johns Hopkins carried out a study predicting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have loss of hearing. That’s a staggering increase over current numbers.

We Are Getting Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?

It used to be that, unless you spent your days in a loud and noisy surrounding, damage to your hearing would happen fairly slowly, so we consider it as a side effect of aging. 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 lifestyle.

Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. Whether you’re chatting with friends, listening to tunes, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we love to do and using earbuds to do it all. Most people have no idea what is a damaging sound level or how long it takes to do damage and that’s a problem. 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 gradually damaging their hearing. In terms of loss of productivity, that’s a big problem and one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment.

Loss of hearing is Misunderstood

Avoiding extremely loud sounds is something that even young kids are usually smart enough to do. But it isn’t popularly understood what hearing loss is about. The majority of people won’t know that medium intensity noises can also damage your hearing if exposed for longer time periods.

But hearing loss is commonly associated with aging so the majority of people, especially young people, aren’t even concerned with it.

According to the WHO, those in this 12-35-year-old age group could be exposing their ears to permanent damage.

Solutions And Suggestions

The problem is particularly widespread because so many of us are using smart devices regularly. That’s why many hearing specialists have suggested answers that focus on providing mobile device users with additional information:

  • Built-in parental controls which let parents more closely supervise volume and adjust for hearing health.
  • Warnings when you listen too long at a specific decibel level (it’s not only the volume of a sound that can cause damage it’s how long the noise lasts).
  • Alerts about high volume.

And that’s just the start. There are plenty of technological methods to get us to begin to pay more attention to the health of our hearing.

Reduce The Volume

The most significant 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 face it, 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.

Also, decibel levels in your environment can be measured by app’s that you can download. 2 steps to protect your hearing. Making sure not to try to drown out loud noises with even louder noises and of course using ear protection. For instance, if you drive with your windows down, don’t turn up the music to hear it better, the noise from the wind and traffic might already be at damaging levels. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, schedule a hearing exam.

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