Hearing loss is typically thought to be an older person’s problem – in fact, it’s estimated that around 50% of people who have hearing loss are 75 or older. 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 totally avoidable.
The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing recently conducted a study of 479 freshmen from three high schools and revealed that 34% of those students exhibited signs of hearing loss. The cause? It’s assumed that it could be from earbuds and headphones connected to mobile devices. And the young aren’t the only ones in danger of this.
What is The Cause of Hearing Loss in People Under 60?
There’s an easy rule regarding earbud volume for teenagers and everybody else – it’s too loud if others can hear your music. Your hearing can be injured when you listen to noises above 85 decibels – about the volume of a vacuum cleaner – over a long period of time. If the volume is cranked all the way up on a standard mobile device it’s volume is about 106 decibels. In this circumstance, injury begins to occur in less than 4 minutes.
Though this sounds like common sense stuff, the reality is kids spend as much as two hours each day using their devices, and typically they have their earbuds plugged in. They’re playing games, watching videos, or listening to music during this time. And if current research is to be believed, this time will only increase over the next few years. Studies demonstrate that dopamine is activated by smartphones and other devices with screens, in younger kids’ brains, which is the same effect triggered by addictive drugs. It will be increasingly difficult to get screens away from kids, and their hearing may suffer because of it.
How Much Are Young Kids in Danger of Hearing Loss?
Irrespective of age, it’s obvious that loss of hearing presents a number of difficulties. But there are additional issues for young people concerning after school sports, job prospects, or even academics. The student is disadvantaged if they have a difficult time hearing and understanding concepts during class because of early loss of hearing. And since sports require a lot of listening to teammates and coaches calling plays, sports become much more challenging. Early loss of hearing can have an adverse effect on confidence too, which puts needless roadblocks in the way of teens and younger adults who are joining the workforce.
Hearing loss can also cause persistent social issues. Kids whose hearing is damaged commonly wind up requiring therapy because they have a harder time with their peers because of loss of hearing. Mental health troubles are typical in people of all ages who suffer from hearing loss because they commonly feel isolated and experience anxiety and depression. Mental health therapies and hearing loss treatment often go hand in hand, especially 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 children listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the sound while you are near them, you should tell them to turn it down until you can’t hear it anymore.
You might also choose to say goodbye to the earbuds and go with the older style over-the-ear headphones. Traditional headphones can produce almost 10% less volume compared to in-ear models.
Throughout the day in general, you need to do everything possible to limit your exposure to loud sound. You can’t control everything, so try to make the time you’re listening to tunes free of headphones. If you do suspect you are dealing with hearing loss, you need to see us as soon as possible.