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

Hearing loss is generally thought of as an older person’s concern – in fact, it’s estimated that about 50% of individuals aged 75 and older struggle with some form of hearing loss. And even though it’s often entirely avoidable, a new study reveals an alarming number of younger people are losing their hearing.

The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing recently carried out a study of 479 freshmen spanning three high schools and discovered that there were signs of hearing loss in 34% of them. The cause? It’s believed that it might be from headphones and earbuds connected to mobile devices. And older people are also susceptible.

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

For teenagers and everyone else, there is a basic rule for earbud volume – it’s too loud if other people can hear your music. Damage to your hearing can develop when you listen to sounds higher than 85 decibels – similar to the volume of a vacuum cleaner – for a prolonged period of time. If the volume is turned all the way up on a standard mobile device it’s volume is about 106 decibels. In this circumstance, damage begins to develop in under 4 minutes.

Although this seems like common sense stuff, the truth is kids spend as much as two hours every day on their devices, often with their earphones or earbuds plugged in. During this time they’re watching videos, listening to music, or playing games. And if current research is to be believed, this time will only increase over the next few years. Studies show that dopamine is triggered by smartphones and other devices that have screens, in the brain’s of younger kids, which is the same effect triggered by addictive drugs. It will be increasingly challenging to get screens away from kids, and their hearing may suffer because of it.

How Much Are Young People at Risk of Hearing Loss?

Irrespective of age, it’s clear that hearing loss presents several struggles. But there are additional issues for young people 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 during class, which puts the student at a disadvantage. And because sports involve a lot of listening to teammates and coaches calling plays, sports become far harder. Teenagers and younger adults who are joining the workforce will have unnecessary obstacles if their loss of hearing has a negative impact on their self-esteem.

Hearing loss can also result in persistent social troubles. Kids whose hearing is impaired have a harder time connecting with friends, which typically results in emotional and social issues that require therapy. Mental health concerns are common in people of all ages who have hearing loss because they commonly feel separated and experience depression and anxiety. Mental health therapies and hearing loss management often go hand in hand, particularly in teenagers and kids during formative years.

How You Can Prevent Loss of Hearing?

The first rule to adhere to is the 60/60 rule – offending devices should be at less than 60% of their maximum volume for less than 1 hour per day. If your kids listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the sound while sitting near them, you should have them turn it down until you can’t hear it anymore.

Also older style over-the-ear headphones might be a better choice than earbuds. Earbuds, which are put directly in the ear, can actually produce 6 to 9 extra decibels compared to conventional headphones.

Throughout the day in general, you should do anything possible to limit your exposure to loud sound. If you try to listen to your tunes without headphones, that is one of the few things you can keep have control of. If you do suspect you’re suffering from hearing loss, you need to see us right away.

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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