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 – as a matter of fact, it’s estimated that about 50% of people who suffer from loss of hearing are 75 or older. And even though it’s frequently completely preventable, new research reveals an alarming number of younger people are losing their hearing.

The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing recently conducted research on 479 freshmen from three high schools and discovered that 34% of those students exhibited signs of hearing loss. The reason? It’s thought that it may be the result of earbuds and headphones connected to mobile devices. And older people are also susceptible.

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

For teenagers and everybody else, there is a simple rule for earbud volume – if someone else can hear your music, then the volume is too high. Harm to your hearing can happen when you listen to noises higher than 85 decibels – about the volume of a vacuum cleaner – for an extended period of time. A normal mobile device with the volume cranked up to the max registers at around 106 decibels. Your hearing is injured in less than 4 minutes in these circumstances.

While you would think that this stuff would be common sense, the reality is kids spend upwards of two hours a day using their devices, commonly with their earphones or earbuds plugged in. They’re playing games, watching videos, or listening to music during this time. And this time is getting longer each year according to current research. Studies reveal that smartphones and other screens stimulate dopamine generation in the brain’s of younger kids, which is the same reaction caused by addictive drugs. It will be increasingly challenging to get kids to put down their screens, and their hearing may suffer because of it.

How Much Are Young Kids at Risk of Hearing Loss?

Obviously, loss of hearing offers several difficulties to anybody, no matter what the age. Young people, though, have to deal with additional issues pertaining to job prospects, after school sports, or even academics. Hearing loss at a young age leads to problems with attention span and understanding concepts during class, which puts the student at a disadvantage. It also makes playing sports much more challenging, since so much of sports requires listening to teammates and coaches give instructions and call plays. Early loss of hearing can have an adverse effect on confidence too, which puts unnecessary hurdles in the way of teens and young adults who are joining the workforce.

Loss of hearing can also result in persistent social issues. Children with compromised hearing have a harder time interacting with peers, which typically leads to emotional and social issues that require therapy. Mental health concerns are ordinary in people of all ages who suffer from hearing loss because they commonly feel isolated and experience anxiety and depression. Mental health therapies and hearing loss treatment often go hand in hand, particularly in kids and teenagers during developmental years.

Preventing Hearing Loss

The first rule to adhere to is the 60/60 rule – devices and earbuds should only be used for 1 hour per day at 60% or less of the maximum volume. If your kids listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the sound while you are close to 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 idea than earbuds. Earbuds, which are put directly in the ear, can actually generate 6 to 9 extra decibels compared to conventional headphones.

Generally, though, do whatever you can to limit your exposure to loud sounds throughout the day. You can’t control everything, so try to make the time you’re listening to tunes free of headphones. If you do believe you are dealing with 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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