Traditionally, hearing loss is considered to be a problem only impacting older people – as a matter of fact, it’s estimated that about 50% of people who have hearing loss are 75 or older. And even though it’s often entirely 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 revealed that there were indications of hearing loss in 34% of them. Why is this happening? Mobile devices with headphones or earbuds connected are thought to be the most likely culprit. And younger people aren’t the only ones in danger of this.
What Causes Hearing Loss in People Under 60?
There’s a simple rule concerning earbud volume for teenagers and everybody else – if other people can hear your music, then the volume is too high. Your hearing can be damaged when you listen to noises above 85 decibels – which is about the sound of a vacuum cleaner – over a long period of time. A normal mobile device with the volume cranked up to the max registers at around 106 decibels. In this scenario, damage starts to develop in less than 4 minutes.
Although this seems like common sense stuff, in reality kids spend upwards of two hours every day using their devices, and usually they have their earbuds plugged in. During this time they’re watching videos, listening to music, or playing games. And this time is increasing every year according to current research. Studies show that smartphones and other screens trigger dopamine production in the brain’s of younger kids, which is literally what addictive drugs do. Kids loss of hearing will continue to increase because it will be more and more hard to get them to put their screens down.
How Much Are Young People at Risk of Hearing Loss?
Clearly, hearing loss presents several struggles to anybody, irrespective of the age. Younger people, though, face added issues concerning after school sports, job prospects, and even academics. The student is disadvantaged if they have a difficult time hearing and comprehending concepts during class because of early hearing loss. And because sports involve a lot of listening to coaches and teammates calling plays, sports become a lot more challenging. Teenagers and younger adults who are joining the workforce will have unnecessary challenges if their loss of hearing has a detrimental effect on their self-esteem.
Social troubles can also persist because of loss of hearing. Children with compromised hearing have a more difficult time connecting with peers, which typically leads to social and emotional problems that require therapy. Mental health issues are common in people of all ages who suffer from hearing loss because they typically feel separated and have anxiety and depression. Treating hearing loss in many cases must go hand-in-hand with mental health treatment, especially during the significant developmental periods experienced by kids and teenagers.
How You Can Avoid Hearing Loss?
The first rule to follow is the 60/60 rule – devices and earbuds should only be used for 60 minutes a day at 60% or less of the maximum volume. If your children listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the music while sitting near them, you should tell them to turn it down until you can no longer hear it.
You may also want to say goodbye to the earbuds and choose the older style over-the-ear headphones. Traditional headphones can produce almost 10% less volume in comparison to in-ear models.
Generally speaking, though, do what you can to minimize your exposure to loud sounds throughout the day. If you try to listen to your music without headphones, that is one of the few things you can keep have control of. And, you should see us right away if you think you’re already suffering from loss of hearing.