Hearing loss is normally thought to be an older person’s issue – as a matter of fact, it’s estimated that about 50% of people aged 75 and up have some kind of hearing loss. But a new study reveals that younger people are at risk for hearing loss – and, alarmingly, they are losing their hearing in spite of the fact that it’s completely preventable.
A study of 479 freshmen from three high schools conducted 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? It’s believed that it may be from headphones and earbuds connected to mobile devices. And the young are not the only ones in danger of this.
What Causes Hearing Loss in People Under 60?
There’s a very simple rule concerning earbud volume for teenagers and everyone else – if someone else can hear your music, then it’s too loud. Injury to your hearing can happen when you listen to noises higher than 85 decibels – about the volume of a vacuum cleaner – for a prolonged period of time. A typical mobile device with the volume turned up all the way registers at around 106 decibels. Your hearing is damaged in under 4 minutes in these circumstances.
While you might think that this stuff would be common sense, the reality is kids spend around two hours every day on their devices, commonly with their earphones or earbuds plugged in. During this time they’re listening to music, watching videos, or playing games. And if current research is to be believed, this time will only increase over the next few years. Studies reveal that dopamine is triggered by smartphones and other devices with screens, in the brain’s of younger kids, which is literally what addictive drugs do. 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 in Danger of Hearing Loss?
Regardless of age, it’s obvious that loss of hearing presents countless struggles. Young people, though, have to deal with added issues pertaining to academics, after school sports, and even job prospects. Hearing loss at a young age results in problems with attention span and understanding concepts in class, which puts the student at a disadvantage. It also makes playing sports a lot more challenging, since so much of sports entails listening to teammates and coaches give instructions and call plays. Teenagers and young adults who are going into the workforce will have unneeded obstacles if their loss of hearing has a negative impact on their self-esteem.
Social issues can also continue due to hearing loss. Children whose hearing is damaged have a harder time socializing with friends, which typically results in emotional and social issues that require therapy. Mental health issues are typical in people of all ages who have hearing loss because they typically feel separated and have anxiety and depression. Mental health treatment and hearing loss treatment often go hand in hand, particularly in teenagers and kids during developmental years.
Avoiding Hearing Loss
The first rule to follow is the 60/60 rule – offending devices should be at less than 60% of their maximum volume for no more than 1 hour every day. If your kids listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the music while sitting near them, you should have them turn it down until you can no longer hear it.
Also older style over-the-ear headphones may be a better choice than earbuds. Earbuds, which are put directly in the ear, can actually produce 6 to 9 extra decibels in comparison to traditional headphones.
Throughout the day in general, you need to do anything possible to minimize your exposure to loud sound. You can’t control everything, so try to make the time you’re listening to music headphone-free. If you do believe you’re suffering from hearing loss, you should see us right away.