Typically, hearing loss is thought of as an issue only impacting older people – in fact, it’s estimated that nearly 50% of individuals aged 75 and up suffer from some type of hearing loss. And even though it’s often totally avoidable, a new study reveals a shocking 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 from three high schools and found that there were signs of hearing loss in 34% of them. Why is this happening? Mobile devices with earbuds or headphones connected are thought to be the primary cause. And younger people aren’t the only ones in danger of this.
What Causes Hearing Loss in People Below The Age of 60?
For teenagers and everyone else, there is a basic rule for earbud volume – the volume is too high if others can hear your music. Your hearing can be damaged when you listen to sounds above 85 decibels – about the volume of a vacuum cleaner – for an extended period of time. If the volume is turned all the way up on a standard mobile device it’s volume is about 106 decibels. Your hearing is injured in less than 4 minutes in these situations.
While you would think that this stuff would be common sense, the reality is kids spend as much as two hours a day on their devices, often with their earphones or earbuds plugged in. They’re listening to music, playing games, or watching videos during this time. And this time is increasing each year according to current research. Studies reveal that smartphones and other screens activate dopamine generation in the brain’s of younger kids, which is the same response triggered by addictive drugs. It will be more and more challenging to get screens away from kids, and their hearing could suffer as a result.
How Much Are Young People at Risk of Hearing Loss?
Irrespective of age, it’s clear that loss of hearing presents several struggles. Young people, however, face added problems concerning after school sports, job prospects, and even academics. The student is put at a disadvantage if they have a hard time hearing and understanding concepts during class because of early hearing loss. It also makes playing sports much more difficult, since so much of sports involves listening to teammates and coaches give instructions and call plays. Early hearing loss can have a detrimental effect on confidence too, which puts needless hurdles in the way of teens and young adults who are coming into the workforce.
Social issues can also continue due to loss of hearing. Kids with damaged hearing often end up needing therapy because they have a harder time with their friends because of loss of hearing. People who suffer from hearing loss can feel separated and have depression and anxiety inevitably leading to mental health problems. Dealing with hearing loss often must go hand-in-hand with mental health therapy, especially during the important formative stages experienced by kids and teenagers.
How You Can Steer Clear of Loss of Hearing?
The first rule to adhere to is the 60/60 rule – offending devices should be at less than 60% of their max volume for less than 1 hour each day. If your kids listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the sound while sitting close to them, you should have them turn it down until you can no longer hear it.
Also older style over-the-ear headphones might be a better choice than earbuds. Conventional headphones can generate almost 10% less decibels compared to in-ear models.
Throughout the day in general, you need to do everything you can to reduce 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. If you do suspect you are suffering from loss of hearing, you need to see us as soon as possible.