Hearing Aids by Tricia Leagjeld - Redmond, OR

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

In spite of popular belief, hearing loss isn’t only an issue for older people. Overall hearing loss is on the rise in spite of the fact that how old you are is still a strong factor. Hearing loss remains at around 14-16% amongst adults 20 to 69 years of age. Globally, more than 1 billion people between the ages of 12-35 are at risk of getting hearing loss, as reported by the united nations and The World Health Organization. In children between 6 and 19, around 15% already have hearing loss as reported by the CDC, and the number seems to be closer to 17% according to current research. Other reports state that hearing loss is up 30% in teenagers from only 10 years ago. Worse still, a study conducted by Johns Hopkins projects these trends out into the future and forecasts that by 2060 about 73 million people over the age of 65 will have loss of hearing. That’s an astounding increase over current numbers.

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

In the past, unless you spent your days in a loud and noisy environment, damage to your hearing would happen fairly slowly, so we think about it as a side effect of getting older. 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 lifestyle.

Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. Whether you’re talking to friends, listening to tunes, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we enjoy doing and using earbuds for all of it. Most people have no idea what is a harmful sound level or how long it takes to do damage and that’s an issue. Sometimes we even use earbuds to drown out loud noises, meaning we’re voluntarily exposing our ears to damaging levels of sound instead of protecting them.

Slowly but surely, 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.

Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?

Even young kids are usually wise enough to stay away from extremely loud noises. But the nature of hearing damage isn’t commonly understood. It’s not commonly recognized that over longer time periods, even moderate sound levels can injure hearing.

But hearing loss is commonly associated with aging so most people, particularly young people, don’t even think about it.

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

Options And Suggestions

Due to the fact that so many people use smart devices regularly, it’s an especially widespread issue. That’s why offering additional information to mobile device users has been a recommended solution by some hearing professionals:

  • Warnings when you listen too long at a specific decibel level (it’s not just 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 using built in parental control settings.
  • Alerts about high volume.

And that’s just the beginning. Paying more attention to the health of our ears, many technological possibilities exist.

Reduce The Volume

The most significant way to minimize damage 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. 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 we need to change the way we discuss, prevent, and deal with 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 try to drown out loud noises with even louder noises and of course using 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 turn up the radio to drown it out. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional if you have any questions.

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