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

Typically, loss of hearing is thought of as an issue only effecting older people – as a matter of fact, it’s estimated that around 50% of individuals who suffer from hearing loss are 75 or older. And even though it’s often entirely preventable, a new study reveals a shocking number of younger people are losing their hearing.

A study of 479 freshmen from three high schools conducted by The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing revealed that there were indications of hearing loss in 34% of them. The reason? Mobile devices with earbuds or headphones connected are believed to be the culprit. And older individuals are also at risk.

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

There’s a simple rule regarding earbud volume for teenagers and everyone else – if others can hear your music, then it’s too loud. Your hearing can be injured when you listen to noises above 85 decibels – similar to the volume of a vacuum cleaner – for an extended time period. If the volume is cranked all the way up on a normal mobile device it’s volume is around 106 decibels. Your hearing is damaged in under 4 minutes in these conditions.

While you might think that this stuff would be common sense, the truth is kids spend around two hours a day using 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 correct, this time will only increase over the next few years. Studies reveal that smartphones and other screens trigger dopamine generation in the brain’s of younger kids, which is exactly what addictive drugs do. Kids hearing loss will continue to multiply because it will be increasingly hard to get them to put away their screens.

The Challenges of Hearing Loss in Young People

Irrespective of age, it’s obvious that hearing loss offers many difficulties. Young people, though, face additional problems pertaining to academics, after school sports, and even job prospects. Loss of hearing at a young age results in problems with attention span and understanding concepts during class, which puts the student at a disadvantage. It also makes participating in sports a lot more challenging, since so much of sports includes listening to teammates and coaches give instructions and call plays. Early loss of hearing can have an adverse effect on confidence also, which puts unneeded obstacles in the way of teenagers and young adults who are entering the workforce.

Social issues can also persist due to hearing loss. Children with damaged hearing commonly wind up needing therapy because they have a more difficult time with their peers due to loss of hearing. People who have hearing loss can feel separated and have anxiety and depression inevitably leading to mental health concerns. Mental health treatment and hearing loss treatment often go hand in hand, especially during the significant formative stages experienced by kids and teenagers.

How You Can Avoid Hearing Loss?

The first rule to follow is the 60/60 rule – devices and earbuds should only be used for 60 minutes a day at a maximum volume of 69%. If your children listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the music while you are close to them, you should tell them to turn it down until you can’t hear it anymore.

You may also choose to ditch the earbuds and go with the older style over-the-ear headphones. Earbuds, placed directly in the ear can actually produce 6 to 9 extra decibels compared to traditional headphones.

Throughout the day in general, you need to do anything possible to minimize 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, see us immediately 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.

Medical information dates as new research comes out all the time - if you have a concern about your hearing, please call us.

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