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Young woman not protecting her hearing in a loud subway.

An estimated 50% of individuals 75 or over have some level of hearing loss and that’s why most people think of it as a problem for older people. But in spite of the fact that in younger individuals it’s totally preventable, studies show that they too are at risk of developing hearing loss.

One study of 479 freshmen from three high schools discovered that 34% of those students showed signs of hearing loss. The cause? The concept is that mobile devices with earbuds connected are contributing to the issue. And the young are not the only ones at risk.

What causes hearing loss in people under 60?

There’s a basic rule regarding earbud volume for teenagers and everyone else – if someone else can hear your music, then it’s too loud. Damage to your hearing can happen when you listen to sounds louder than 85 decibels – which is approximately the sound of a vacuum cleaner – for an extended period of time. Most mobile devices can go well above 105dB. Utilized in this way, 4 minutes is enough to cause damage.

While this seems like common sense stuff, the truth is that kids spend upwards of two hours every day on their devices, often with their earphones or earbuds in. They’re playing games, watching videos, or listening to music during this time. And if the latest research is to be believed, this time will only get longer over the next few years. Research shows that smartphones and other screens stimulate dopamine production in younger kids’ brains, which is the same response caused by addictive drugs. It will be more and more difficult to get screens away from kids, and their hearing may suffer because of it.

Young people are in danger of hearing loss

Regardless of age, hearing loss obviously creates numerous challenges. For younger people though, after school activities, sports, and job possibilities produce additional difficulties. Students with hearing loss face an especially difficult time hearing and understanding concepts. It also makes playing sports much harder, since so much of sports involves listening to coaches and teammates giving instructions and calling plays. Early hearing loss can have a negative impact on confidence as well, which puts unwanted obstacles in front of teenagers and young adults who are entering the workforce.

Hearing loss can also result in social issues. Kids with damaged hearing have a more difficult time interacting with peers, which frequently causes social and emotional problems that require therapy. Individuals who suffer with hearing loss often feel isolated and experience mental health problems like depression and anxiety. Treating hearing loss often needs to go hand-in-hand with mental health treatment, especially during the important developmental stages experienced by kids and teenagers.

How young people can avoid hearing loss

Using earbuds or headphones for no more than 60 minutes per day and at a volume 60% of max or less (the 60/60 rule) is the first rule to observe. If your kids listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear them while sitting near them, you should have them lower the volume until you can no longer hear it.

It also might be smart to change back to over-the-ear style headphones and quit using earbuds. Earbuds placed directly into the ear can actually produce 6 to 9 extra decibels compared to traditional headphones.

Whatever you can do to minimize your child’s exposure to loud sounds throughout the day will be helpful. You can’t control everything they do during school or on the bus, so try to make the time they’re at home headphone-free. And if you do think your child is dealing with hearing loss, you should have them evaluated as soon as possible.

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References

https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/quick-statistics-hearing
https://newsie.co.nz/news/163631-deaf-foundation-blames-earbuds-phones-teens-hearing-loss.html
https://time.com/4989275/young-children-tablets-mobile-devices/
https://www.healthyhearing.com/report/52500-Hearing-loss-among-kids-and-teens
https://hearinghealthfoundation.org/blogs/protecting-your-hearing-means-protecting-your-mental-health
https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/earbuds.html

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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