Hearing loss is typically thought to be an older person’s concern – in fact, it’s estimated that nearly 50% of people aged 75 and older suffer from some form of hearing loss. And though it’s often totally preventable, a new study reveals a shocking number of younger people are losing their hearing.
A study of 479 freshmen from three high schools carried out by The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing found that there were indications of hearing loss in 34% of them. The cause? Mobile devices with earbuds or headphones connected are thought to be the culprit. And the young aren’t the only ones in danger of this.
What Causes Hearing Loss in People Below The Age of 60?
There’s an easy rule regarding earbud volume for teenagers and all other people – if other people can hear your music, then it’s too loud. Damage to your hearing can occur when you listen to noises above 85 decibels – about the volume of a vacuum cleaner – for a prolonged time period. If the volume is turned all the way up on a standard mobile device it’s volume is approximately 106 decibels. Your hearing is injured in less than 4 minutes in these situations.
While you might think that this stuff would be common sense, the truth is kids spend upwards of two hours every day on their devices, and usually they have their earbuds connected. They’re listening to music, playing games, or watching videos during this time. And this time is getting longer each year according to current research. Studies reveal that dopamine is stimulated by smartphones and other devices with screens, in younger kids’ brains, which is literally what addictive drugs do. It will be increasingly difficult to get screens away from kids, and their hearing could suffer as a result.
The Risks of Hearing Loss in Young People
Irrespective of age, it’s clear that loss of hearing presents a number of difficulties. Younger people, however, face added problems concerning academics, after school sports, and even job prospects. The student is put at a disadvantage if they have a hard time hearing and understanding concepts during class due to early hearing loss. It also makes participating in sports a lot more difficult, since so much of sports entails listening to coaches and teammates give instructions and call plays. Early loss of hearing can have a detrimental effect on confidence too, which puts needless hurdles in the way of teens and younger adults who are entering the workforce.
Loss of hearing can also cause persistent social issues. Children with impaired hearing have a harder time interacting with friends, which typically results in social and emotional issues that require therapy. Mental health issues are typical in people of all ages who have hearing loss because they commonly feel separated and experience depression and anxiety. Mental health treatment and hearing loss management often go hand in hand, especially in teenagers and kids during formative years.
How You Can Prevent 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 your children listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the music while you are near them, you should have them turn it down until you can’t hear it anymore.
You may also choose to ditch the earbuds and choose the older style over-the-ear headphones. Earbuds, placed directly in the ear can actually generate 6 to 9 extra decibels in comparison to traditional headphones.
Generally speaking, though, do whatever you can to minimize your exposure to loud noises throughout the day. You can’t control everything, so try and make the time you’re listening to tunes headphone-free. And, see us right away if you think you are already suffering from loss of hearing.