Hearing loss is traditionally thought of as an older person’s issue – 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 completely avoidable.
A study of 479 freshmen from three high schools conducted by The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing found that there were signs of hearing loss in 34% of them. The reason? It’s assumed that it might be from earbuds and headphones connected to mobile devices. And the young are not the only ones at risk.
What is The Cause of Hearing Loss in People Under 60?
For teenagers and everyone else, there is a simple rule for earbud volume – if others can hear your music, then the volume is too high. Your hearing can be damaged when you listen to noises above 85 decibels – which is about the sound 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 around 106 decibels. Your hearing is damaged in under 4 minutes in these conditions.
Though this seems like common sense stuff, the truth is kids spend in excess of two hours each day on their devices, commonly with their earphones or earbuds plugged in. During this time they’re watching videos, listening to music, or playing games. And this time is getting longer each year according to current research. 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 more and more difficult to get them to put their screens down.
The Dangers of Hearing Loss in Young People
Regardless of age, it’s obvious that hearing loss offers a number of challenges. Younger people, though, face added problems pertaining to academics, after school sports, and even job prospects. Loss of hearing at a young age leads to issues with paying attention and understanding information in class, which puts the student at a disadvantage. And because sports involve a lot of listening to teammates and coaches calling plays, sports become a lot more challenging. Teenagers and young adults who are entering the workforce will have unneeded obstacles if their hearing loss has a detrimental effect on their confidence.
Social problems can also persist because of loss of hearing. Kids with compromised hearing have a harder time interacting with peers, which frequently leads to emotional and social issues that require therapy. Mental health troubles are common in people of all ages who have hearing loss because they typically feel isolated and experience depression and anxiety. Mental health treatment and hearing loss treatment often go hand in hand, particularly during the significant formative phases experienced by teenagers and kids.
Preventing Hearing Loss
The first rule to follow is the 60/60 rule – offending devices should be at less than 60% of their maximum volume for no more than 1 hour each day. If your children listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the sound while sitting close to them, you should tell them to turn it down until you can’t hear it anymore.
Also older style over-the-ear headphones might be a better choice than earbuds. Traditional headphones can generate almost 10% less volume compared to in-ear models.
Throughout the day in general, you should do anything possible to minimize your exposure to loud noise. You can’t control everything, so try and make the time you’re listening to music free of headphones. And, you should see us right away if you suspect you are already suffering from hearing loss.