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

Normally, hearing loss is considered to be an issue only impacting older people – as a matter of fact, it’s estimated that about 50% of individuals who suffer from hearing loss are 75 or older. And even though it’s frequently totally avoidable, new research reveals a shocking number of younger people are losing their hearing.

The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing recently carried out a study of 479 freshmen from three high schools and found that there were signs of hearing loss in 34% of them. The cause? It’s assumed that it may be the result of headphones and earbuds connected to mobile devices. And older individuals are also susceptible.

What is The Cause of Hearing Loss in People Under 60?

For teenagers and everyone else, there is a basic rule for earbud volume – if other people can hear your music, then it’s too loud. Damage to your hearing can happen when you listen to noises higher than 85 decibels – which is about the volume of a vacuum cleaner – over a long time period. If the volume is turned all the way up on a normal mobile device it’s volume is about 106 decibels. In this circumstance, damage starts to occur in under 4 minutes.

While this sounds like common sense stuff, the reality is kids spend as much as two hours a day on their devices, often with their earphones or earbuds connected. During this time they’re listening to music, watching videos, or playing games. And this time is getting longer every year according to current research. Studies show that smartphones and other screens trigger dopamine generation 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 kids to put down their screens, and their hearing could suffer because of it.

The Challenges of Hearing Loss in Young People

Obviously, loss of hearing offers many difficulties to anybody, no matter what the age. Young people, though, face added issues regarding after school sports, job prospects, or even academics. The student is disadvantaged if they have a hard time hearing and comprehending concepts in class due to early hearing loss. And because sports require a lot of listening to coaches and teammates calling plays, sports become much harder. Early hearing loss can have an adverse effect on confidence as well, which puts needless roadblocks in the way of teens and younger adults who are coming into the workforce.

Hearing loss can also result in persistent social problems. Children with impaired hearing often wind up requiring therapy because they have a harder 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 commonly feel isolated and have depression and anxiety. Treating hearing loss often must go hand-in-hand with mental health treatment, especially during the important developmental phases experienced by teenagers and kids.

How You Can Steer Clear of Hearing Loss?

The first rule to follow 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’re able to hear your kids headphones, even if they are at 60%, you need to tell them to turn down the volume.

You might also want to ditch the earbuds and choose the older style over-the-ear headphones. Earbuds, placed directly in the ear can actually generate 6 to 9 extra decibels in comparison to traditional headphones.

Throughout the day in general, you need to do everything possible to reduce your exposure to loud sound. If you try to listen to your tunes without headphones, that is one of the few things you can keep have control of. If you do suspect you’re suffering from hearing loss, you need to see us as soon as possible.

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