Man on bus wearing headphones unaware he is causing hearing loss with prolonged exposure.

Hearing loss is normally thought to be an older person’s problem – as a matter of fact, it’s estimated that around 50% of people aged 75 and older have some type of hearing loss. But new research shows that younger people are at risk for hearing loss – and, alarmingly, they are losing their hearing even though it’s completely avoidable.

The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing recently carried out research on 479 freshmen from three high schools and revealed that there were signs of hearing loss in 34% of them. Why is this happening? It’s believed that it could be the result of headphones and earbuds connected to mobile devices. And older individuals are also susceptible.

What is The Cause of Hearing Loss in People Under 60?

For teenagers and everybody else, there is a basic rule for earbud volume – if other people can hear your music, then the volume is too high. Damage to your hearing can occur when you listen to sounds above 85 decibels – which is approximately the volume of a vacuum cleaner – for an extended time period. A typical mobile device with the volume turned up all the way registers at about 106 decibels. Your hearing is damaged in under 4 minutes in these conditions.

While you would think that this stuff would be common sense, in reality kids spend in excess of two hours a day on their devices, commonly with their earphones or earbuds plugged in. During this time they’re listening to music, watching videos, or playing games. And if current research is correct, this time will only increase over the next few years. Studies reveal that smartphones and other screens stimulate dopamine generation in younger kids’ brains, which is literally what addictive drugs do. Kids hearing loss will continue to multiply because it will be more and more difficult to get them to put away their screens.

How Much Are Young People at Risk of Hearing Loss?

Obviously, hearing loss presents numerous struggles to anyone, irrespective of the age. Younger people, though, face additional problems regarding after school sports, job prospects, and even academics. The student is disadvantaged if they have a difficult time hearing and comprehending concepts in class because of early loss of hearing. It also makes playing sports much more difficult, since so much of sports requires listening to teammates and coaches give instructions and call plays. Early loss of hearing can have a detrimental effect on confidence as well, which puts unnecessary obstacles in the way of teenagers and younger adults who are coming into the workforce.

Hearing loss can also cause persistent social problems. Children with impaired hearing commonly wind up needing therapy because they have a more difficult time with their peers due to loss of hearing. People who have loss of hearing can feel isolated and have depression and anxiety inevitably resulting in mental health issues. Treating hearing loss in many cases must go hand-in-hand with mental health therapy, especially in kids and teenagers during developmental years.

How You Can Steer Clear of Hearing Loss?

The first rule to follow is the 60/60 rule – offending devices should be at no more than 60% of their max volume for no more than 1 hour each day. If your kids listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the music while you are near them, you should tell them to turn it down until you can’t hear it anymore.

You might also want to get rid of the earbuds and choose the older style over-the-ear headphones. Conventional headphones can produce almost 10% less volume in comparison to in-ear models.

Throughout the day in general, you need to do anything possible to minimize your exposure to loud noise. If you try to listen to your music without headphones, that is one of the few things you can control. And, see us as soon as possible if you think you are already suffering from loss of hearing.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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