Generally, hearing loss is considered to be an issue only impacting older people – as a matter of fact, it’s estimated that around 50% of people who suffer from loss of hearing are 75 or older. 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 totally preventable.
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. Why is this happening? It’s believed that it may be the result of earbuds and headphones connected to mobile devices. And younger people are not the only ones at risk.
In Individuals Who Are Under The Age of 60, What Causes Loss of Hearing?
For teenagers and everyone else, there is a simple rule for earbud volume – if others can hear your music, then it’s too loud. Your hearing can be injured when you listen to noises higher than 85 decibels – similar to the volume of a vacuum cleaner – over a long time period. If the volume is cranked all the way up on a typical mobile device it’s volume is around 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 around two hours every 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 getting longer every year according to current research. Studies reveal that smartphones and other screens activate dopamine production in younger kids’ brains, which is literally what addictive drugs do. Kids loss of hearing will continue to multiply because it will be increasingly difficult to get them to put their screens down.
How Much Are Young People at Risk of Hearing Loss?
Obviously, hearing loss presents multiple struggles to anybody, irrespective of the age. But there are additional problems for young people regarding job prospects, after school sports, or even academics. The student is put at a disadvantage if they have a hard time hearing and understanding concepts in class because of early hearing loss. And because sports involve a lot of listening to coaches and teammates calling plays, sports become much more challenging. Early loss of hearing can have a detrimental effect on confidence as well, which puts unnecessary roadblocks in the way of teenagers and younger adults who are entering the workforce.
Social struggles can also continue due to hearing loss. Children whose hearing is impaired have a more difficult time interacting with peers, which typically leads to emotional and social problems that require therapy. Mental health problems are common in people of all ages who have hearing loss because they typically feel separated and have depression and anxiety. Dealing with hearing loss in many cases must go hand-in-hand with mental health treatment, especially in kids and teenagers during formative years.
How You Can Steer Clear of Loss of Hearing?
The first rule to adhere to is the 60/60 rule – devices and earbuds should only be used for 1 hour a day at a maximum volume of 69%. If you can hear your kids headphones, even if if the volume is at 60%, you need to tell them to turn down the volume.
You might also want to get rid of the earbuds and choose 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 you can to limit your exposure to loud sound. If you try to listen to your music without headphones, that is one of the few things you can control. If you do suspect you’re dealing with loss of hearing, you need to see us right away.