Hearing loss is generally thought of as an older person’s problem – in fact, it’s estimated that nearly 50% of people aged 75 and older suffer from some form of hearing loss. But a new study shows that younger people are at risk for hearing loss – and, alarmingly, they are losing their hearing even though it’s totally preventable.
A study of 479 freshmen from three high schools conducted by The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing discovered that there were indications of hearing loss in 34% of them. The reason? Mobile devices with headphones or earbuds connected are thought to be the primary cause. And younger people are not the only ones 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 – if someone else can hear your music, then the volume is too high. Your hearing can be injured when you listen to noises above 85 decibels – about the volume of a vacuum cleaner – for an extended period of time. A typical mobile device with the volume turned up all the way clocks in at approximately 106 decibels. Your hearing is damaged in under 4 minutes in these situations.
While you might think that this stuff would be common sense, the truth is kids spend around two hours a day on their devices, and ordinarily they have their earbuds connected. They’re listening to music, playing games, or watching videos during this time. And if current research is correct, this time will only increase over the next few years. Studies demonstrate that dopamine is triggered by smartphones and other devices that have screens, in the brain’s of younger kids, which is literally what addictive drugs do. Kids hearing loss will continue to multiply because it will be more and more hard to get them to put away their screens.
The Challenges of Hearing Loss in Young People
Irrespective of age, it’s clear that hearing loss offers numerous challenges. Younger people, however, face added issues pertaining to academics, after school sports, and even job prospects. The student is disadvantaged if they have a difficult time hearing and understanding concepts in class due to early loss of hearing. And because sports require a lot of listening to coaches and teammates calling plays, sports become a lot more challenging. Teenagers and younger adults who are entering the workforce will have unneeded challenges if their hearing loss has a detrimental impact on their self-esteem.
Social issues can also persist because of loss of hearing. Kids with damaged hearing frequently wind up requiring therapy because they have a more difficult time with their friends due to loss of hearing. Mental health issues are typical in people of all ages who have hearing loss because they often feel separated and experience anxiety and depression. Dealing with hearing loss in many cases must go hand-in-hand with mental health treatment, particularly in teenagers and kids during developmental years.
How You Can Steer Clear of Hearing Loss?
The first rule to adhere to is the 60/60 rule – offending devices should be at no more than 60% of their max volume for less than 1 hour per day. If you can hear your kids music, even if they are at 60%, you should ask them to turn the volume down.
Also older style over-the-ear headphones may be a better idea than earbuds. Earbuds, placed directly in the ear can actually produce 6 to 9 extra decibels in comparison to traditional headphones.
Generally speaking, though, do whatever you can to minimize your exposure to loud sounds throughout the day. You can’t control everything, so try and make the time you’re listening to music headphone-free. And, see us right away if you suspect you’re already suffering from hearing loss.