Hearing Health Blog

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

Hearing loss is typically thought of as an older person’s concern – as a matter of fact, it’s estimated that nearly 50% of individuals who suffer from loss of hearing are 75 or older. But a new study reveals that younger people are at risk for hearing loss – and, alarmingly, they are losing their hearing even though it’s totally preventable.

A study of 479 freshmen from three high schools carried out by The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing discovered that 34% of those freshmen exhibited signs of hearing loss. The cause? It’s assumed that it could be from earbuds and headphones connected to mobile devices. And the young aren’t the only ones in danger of this.

In People Who Are Under 60, What Causes Hearing Loss?

There’s a simple rule concerning earbud volume for teenagers and everybody else – it’s too loud if others can hear your music. Your hearing can be injured when you listen to sounds above 85 decibels – similar to the volume of a vacuum cleaner – over a long period of time. If the volume is cranked all the way up on a normal mobile device it’s volume is around 106 decibels. Your hearing is injured in less than 4 minutes in these situations.

While you would think that this stuff would be common sense, the reality is kids spend upwards of two hours a day on their devices, and typically they have their earbuds connected. They’re listening to music, playing games, or watching videos during this time. And this time is getting longer each year according to current research. Studies show that smartphones and other screens stimulate dopamine generation in younger kids’ brains, which is the same reaction caused by addictive drugs. It will be more and more difficult to get screens away from kids, and their hearing may suffer because of it.

The Dangers of Hearing Loss in Young People

Regardless of age, it’s obvious that loss of hearing offers countless challenges. Younger people, however, have to deal with additional issues pertaining to after school sports, job prospects, and even academics. Hearing loss at a young age leads to problems with paying attention and understanding concepts in class, which disadvantages the student. It also makes participating in sports a lot more challenging, since so much of sports entails listening to coaches and teammates give instructions and call plays. Early loss of hearing can have an adverse effect on confidence also, which puts unnecessary obstacles in the way of teens and younger adults who are joining the workforce.

Loss of hearing can also lead to persistent social struggles. Kids whose hearing is damaged have a more difficult time connecting with peers, which frequently leads to social and emotional problems that require therapy. Mental health issues are common in people of all ages who have hearing loss because they commonly feel isolated and have anxiety and depression. Managing hearing loss in many cases must go hand-in-hand with mental health treatment, particularly in kids and teenagers during formative years.

How You Can Steer Clear of Loss of Hearing?

The first rule to adhere to is the 60/60 rule – offending devices should be at less than 60% of their max volume for no more than 1 hour a day. If you can hear your kids headphones, even if if the volume is at 60%, you should tell them to turn down the volume.

You may also want to say goodbye to the earbuds and go with the older style over-the-ear headphones. Conventional headphones can produce almost 10% less volume compared to in-ear models.

Throughout the day in general, you should do everything you can to limit your exposure to loud sound. If you try to listen to your music without headphones, that is one of the few things you can keep have control of. And, you should see us as soon as possible if you think you’re already suffering from hearing loss.

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