Man on bus wearing headphones unaware he is causing hearing loss with prolonged exposure.

Generally, hearing loss is considered to be a problem only effecting older people – in fact, it’s estimated that about 50% of individuals aged 75 and up suffer from some type of hearing loss. And even though it’s often totally avoidable, a new study reveals an alarming number of younger people are losing their hearing.

A study of 479 freshmen from three high schools conducted by The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing found that 34% of those students exhibited signs of hearing loss. The cause? Mobile devices with headphones or earbuds connected are thought to be the primary cause. And older individuals are also at risk.

In Individuals Who Are Under 60, What Causes Hearing Loss?

For teenagers and everybody else, there is a basic rule for earbud volume – the volume is too high if others can hear your music. Your hearing can be damaged when you listen to noises higher than 85 decibels – which is about the volume of a vacuum cleaner – over a long period of time. If the volume is turned all the way up on a typical mobile device it’s volume is about 106 decibels. Your hearing is damaged in less than 4 minutes in these circumstances.

While you might think that this stuff would be common sense, in reality kids spend in excess of two hours a day on their devices, often with their earphones or earbuds connected. During this time they’re watching videos, listening to music, or playing games. And if current research is correct, this time will only get longer over the next few years. Studies demonstrate that dopamine is stimulated by smartphones and other devices with screens, in the brain’s of younger kids, which is the same reaction caused by addictive drugs. It will be more and more challenging to get screens away from kids, and their hearing may suffer as a result.

How Much Are Young Kids at Risk of Hearing Loss?

Regardless of age, it’s obvious that loss of hearing offers countless struggles. But there are additional issues for young people concerning job prospects, after school sports, or even academics. Loss of hearing at a young age causes issues with attention span and understanding information in class, which disadvantages the student. It also makes playing sports a lot more difficult, since so much of sports entails listening to coaches and teammates give instructions and call plays. Teenagers and younger adults who are entering the workforce will have unnecessary obstacles if their loss of hearing has a detrimental effect on their self-esteem.

Social troubles can also persist because of hearing loss. Kids with impaired hearing often wind up needing therapy because they have a harder time with their friends due to loss of hearing. People who suffer from hearing loss can feel separated and have depression and anxiety inevitably causing mental health issues. Mental health treatment and hearing loss treatment often go hand in hand, especially during the significant developmental phases experienced by teenagers and kids.

Preventing Hearing Loss

The first rule to adhere to is the 60/60 rule – devices and earbuds should only be used for 1 hour per day at a maximum volume of 69%. If your children listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the sound while sitting near them, you should have them turn it down until you can’t hear it anymore.

You may also choose 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 in comparison to conventional headphones.

Throughout the day in general, you should do anything possible to limit your exposure to loud noise. You can’t control everything, so try to make the time you’re listening to tunes free of headphones. If you do think you’re dealing with loss of hearing, you need to see us right away.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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