Traditionally, hearing loss is thought of as an issue only impacting older people – as a matter of fact, it’s estimated that nearly 50% of individuals aged 75 and older have some form of hearing loss. But new research shows that younger people are at risk for hearing loss – and, alarmingly, they are losing their hearing in spite of the fact that it’s completely 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 youngsters exhibited signs of hearing loss. The cause? Mobile devices with headphones or earbuds connected are thought to be the culprit. And older people are also at risk.
What Causes Hearing Loss in People Under 60?
There’s an easy rule concerning earbud volume for teenagers and everyone else – if someone else can hear your music, then it’s too loud. Your hearing can be injured when you listen to sounds higher than 85 decibels – which is approximately the volume of a vacuum cleaner – for a prolonged period of time. A normal mobile device with the volume turned up to the max clocks in at about 106 decibels. Your hearing is damaged in less than 4 minutes in these situations.
While you might think that this stuff would be common sense, the reality is kids spend around two hours a day using their devices, and normally they have their earbuds plugged in. During this time they’re listening to music, watching videos, or playing games. And this time is increasing every year according to current research. Studies demonstrate that dopamine is stimulated by smartphones and other devices with screens, in younger kids’ brains, which is the same reaction triggered by addictive drugs. Kids hearing loss will continue to increase because it will be more and more difficult to get them to put away their screens.
The Dangers of Hearing Loss in Young People
Obviously, loss of hearing presents many struggles to anyone, irrespective of the age. Young people, however, have to deal with additional problems concerning academics, after school sports, and even job prospects. The student is disadvantaged if they have a hard time hearing and comprehending concepts in class because of early loss of hearing. It also makes participating in sports a lot more difficult, since so much of sports requires listening to teammates and coaches give instructions and call plays. Early loss of hearing can have a detrimental effect on confidence too, which puts needless roadblocks in the way of teenagers and young adults who are entering the workforce.
Hearing loss can also cause persistent social troubles. Kids with compromised hearing frequently wind up needing therapy because they have a more difficult time with their peers because of loss of hearing. Mental health concerns are typical in people of all ages who suffer from hearing loss because they typically feel isolated and have 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 – offending devices should be at less than 60% of their max volume for no more than 1 hour a day. If your kids listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the music while you are close to them, you should have them turn it down until you can’t hear it anymore.
You may also want to get rid of the earbuds and go with the older style over-the-ear headphones. Earbuds, which are put directly in the ear, can actually generate 6 to 9 extra decibels compared to traditional headphones.
In general, though, do what you can to limit your exposure to loud sounds throughout the day. If you try to listen to your music without headphones, that is one of the few things you can keep have control of. If you do believe you are suffering from loss of hearing, you should see us as soon as possible.