Hearing loss is commonly considered an older person’s issue – in fact, it’s estimated that nearly 50% of people aged 75 and older copes with some type of hearing loss. But research shows that younger individuals are at risk for hearing loss – and, alarmingly, they’re losing their hearing despite the fact that it’s totally avoidable.
As a matter of fact, 34% of the 479 freshmen who were studied across 4 high schools demonstrated signs of hearing loss. The cause? The idea is that mobile devices with earbuds connected are contributing to the issue. And everyone’s at risk.
What causes hearing loss in individuals under 60?
If other people can hear your music, it’s too loud and that’s a general rule for teenagers and everyone. Damage to your hearing can occur when you listen to sounds louder than 85 decibels – which is approximately the volume of a vacuum cleaner – for an extended period of time. A typical mobile device with the volume turned up to the max is around 106 decibels. In this situation, damage begins to happen in under 4 minutes.
It may seem like everyone would know this but teenagers frequently have their headphones in for hours at a time. During this time, they’re listening to music, playing games, and watching video. And if current research is to be accepted, this time will only increase over the next several years. Studies show that smartphones and other screens trigger dopamine production in younger kids’ brains, which is the same reaction caused by addictive drugs. Kids’ hearing will suffer as it becomes more difficult to get them to put down their devices.
Young people are at risk of hearing loss
Obviously, hearing loss creates several obstacles for anybody, regardless of age. Younger individuals, however, face additional problems with regards to academics, after-school activities, and even job prospects. Students with hearing loss face a really difficult time hearing and understanding concepts. Sports become particularly challenging if you can’t hear coaches and teammates calling plays and giving directions. Early hearing loss can have a negative effect on confidence as well, which puts unnecessary obstacles in the way of teenagers and young adults who are joining the workforce.
Hearing loss can also lead to social problems. Kids often develop emotional and social issues which can require therapy if they have hearing loss. Mental health issues are prevalent in people of all ages who have hearing loss because they frequently feel isolated and experience anxiety and depression. Mental health treatment and hearing loss management frequently go together and this is especially true with kids and teenagers in their early developmental years.
Avoiding hearing loss when you’re young
Using earbuds or headphones for no more than 60 minutes per day and at a volume 60% of maximum or less (the 60/60 rule) is the first rule to follow. Even at 60%, if other people can still hear the music, it needs to be turned down.
You might also want to ditch the earbuds and opt for the older style over-the-ear headphones. In comparison to traditional headphones, earbuds put inside of the ear canal can actually produce 5 to 10 extra decibels.
Whatever you can do to limit your child’s exposure to loud sounds throughout the day will help. You can’t control everything they do during school or on the bus, so try to make the time they’re at home headphone-free. And you should get a hearing assessment for your child if you think they might already be dealing with hearing loss.