Generally, hearing loss is thought of as an issue only impacting older people – in fact, it’s estimated that about 50% of individuals aged 75 and up suffer from some type of hearing loss. But new research reveals that younger people are at risk for hearing loss – and, alarmingly, they are losing their hearing even though it’s completely avoidable.
The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing recently carried out a study of 479 freshmen spanning three high schools and revealed that 34% of those students showed signs of hearing loss. The cause? It’s thought that it might be from headphones and earbuds connected to mobile devices. And younger people aren’t the only ones in danger of this.
In People Who Are Under 60, What Causes Loss of Hearing?
For teenagers and everybody else, there is a simple rule for earbud volume – it’s too loud if other people can hear your music. Your hearing can be injured when you listen to sounds higher than 85 decibels – about the volume of a vacuum cleaner – over a long time period. A typical mobile device with the volume cranked up to the max clocks in at approximately 106 decibels. In this scenario, injury starts to develop in less than 4 minutes.
Although this sounds like common sense stuff, in reality kids spend upwards of two hours each day using their devices, and normally they have their earbuds plugged in. During this time they’re watching videos, listening to music, or playing games. And if current research is to be believed, this time will only get longer over the next few years. Studies show that dopamine is stimulated by smartphones and other devices with screens, in the brain’s of younger kids, which is the same response caused by addictive drugs. Kids loss of hearing will continue to increase because it will be increasingly difficult to get them to put their screens down.
How Much Are Young Kids at Risk of Hearing Loss?
Regardless of age, it’s obvious that hearing loss offers many struggles. Young people, however, have to deal with added issues pertaining to job prospects, after school sports, or even academics. Hearing loss at a young age results in problems with paying attention and understanding information in class, which puts the student at a disadvantage. It also makes participating in sports much more difficult, since so much of sports includes listening to coaches and teammates give instructions and call plays. Early hearing loss can have a detrimental effect on confidence too, which puts unnecessary obstacles in the way of teens and younger adults who are joining the workforce.
Social problems can also continue due to hearing loss. Kids whose hearing is damaged have a more difficult time interacting with friends, which frequently leads to emotional and social issues that require therapy. Mental health issues are typical in people of all ages who suffer from hearing loss because they often feel separated and experience depression and anxiety. Mental health treatment and hearing loss management often go hand in hand, particularly in teenagers and kids during formative years.
How You Can Steer Clear of Hearing Loss?
The first rule to follow is the 60/60 rule – devices and earbuds should only be used for 1 hour a day at a maximum volume of 69%. If your kids listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the music while you are close to them, you should tell them to turn it down until you can no longer hear it.
Also older style over-the-ear headphones may be a better idea than earbuds. Conventional headphones can produce almost 10% less volume compared to in-ear models.
Throughout the day in general, you need to 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 headphone-free. And, see us right away if you suspect you’re already suffering from loss of hearing.