It is widely stereotyped that hearing loss is something you acquire from aging, and while it is true that approximately “one third of people over 65 years of age are affected by disabling hearing loss,” according to the World Health Organization, that age bracket is being rivalled. The Journal of American Medicine published a study in 2010 that was conducted both between 1988-1994 and 2005-2006, and measured the population percentage of adolescents aged 12-19 who had “low-frequency or high-frequency hearing loss” in at least one ear. The 1988-1994 session demonstrated that 14.9% of these adolescents had this level of hearing loss (already higher than the 10% average for all age groups), and the 2005-2006 session revealed an increase to 19.5% – this means that one 1 out of 5 adolescents has hearing loss, TWICE the average across all age groups. Although it is not concluded as to what has caused this doubling of hearing loss found in adolescents, researchers suspect it to be attributed to listening to music too loud, particularly from earbuds/headphones.
It is incredibly important to protect your ears, no matter how old you are. Our environment is getting louder and louder, but thankfully there are resources out there to help you protect your ears. Accessibility as a whole is gaining attention in popular media, and companies are making efforts, however small, to increase their accessibility. Apple, for instance, revealed their new Noise App for Apple Watch, which will measure the decibels in the environment around you and warn you about how long you should stay in that environment. Hopefully one day there will be a similar warning system built in the iPhone or other smart devices for when you’re playing music too loud through your headphones or speaker system. But until then, be mindful and keep your ears safe!