Hearing loss is generally considered an older person’s concern – in fact, it’s estimated that nearly 50% of individuals who suffer from hearing loss are 75 or older. And even though it’s often totally preventable, a new study shows an alarming number of young people are losing their hearing.
The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing recently conducted a study of 479 freshmen spanning three high schools and revealed that 34% of those freshmen exhibited signs of hearing loss. The reason? Mobile devices with headphones or earbuds connected are believed to be the culprit. 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 – the volume is too high if other people can hear your music. Damage to your hearing can develop when you listen to noises above 85 decibels – which is approximately the sound of a vacuum cleaner – over a long period of time. If the volume is cranked all the way up on a normal mobile device it’s volume is approximately 106 decibels. Your hearing is damaged in under 4 minutes in these conditions.
Although this sounds like common sense stuff, in reality kids spend in excess of two hours each day on their devices, often with their earphones or earbuds plugged in. They’re playing games, watching videos, or listening to music during this time. And if current research is correct, this time will only increase over the next few years. Studies show that dopamine is triggered by smartphones and other devices with screens, in younger kids’ brains, which is the same reaction triggered by addictive drugs. Kids hearing loss will continue to increase because it will be increasingly difficult to get them to put away their screens.
The Dangers of Hearing Loss in Young People
Clearly, loss of hearing presents numerous difficulties to anybody, no matter what the age. Younger people, however, face added problems regarding after school sports, job prospects, or even academics. The student is put at a disadvantage if they have a hard time hearing and understanding concepts during class because of early hearing loss. And because sports require a lot of listening to teammates and coaches calling plays, sports become a lot more difficult. Teenagers and younger adults who are entering the workforce will have unneeded hurdles if their loss of hearing has a negative impact on their confidence.
Social problems can also persist because of hearing loss. Kids with impaired hearing have a harder time connecting with friends, which frequently leads to social and emotional problems that require therapy. People who suffer from hearing loss can feel isolated and have anxiety and depression inevitably resulting in mental health issues. Managing hearing loss in many cases must go hand-in-hand with mental health therapy, especially in teenagers and kids during developmental years.
How You Can Steer Clear of Loss of Hearing?
The first rule to follow is the 60/60 rule – devices and earbuds should only be used for 60 minutes per day at a maximum volume of 69%. If you’re able to hear your kids headphones, even if they are at 60%, you should ask them to turn the volume down.
Also older style over-the-ear headphones might be a better idea than earbuds. Conventional headphones can produce almost 10% less decibels compared to in-ear models.
Generally speaking, though, do whatever you can to limit your exposure to loud noises throughout the day. If you try to listen to your tunes without headphones, that is one of the few things you can keep have control of. And, see us immediately if you suspect you are already suffering from hearing loss.