Hearing loss is traditionally thought of as an older person’s issue – in fact, it’s estimated that about 50% of people aged 75 and older suffer from some type of hearing loss. But new research shows that younger people are at risk for hearing loss – and, alarmingly, they are losing their hearing even though it’s absolutely avoidable.
A study of 479 freshmen from three high schools carried out by The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing found that there were signs of hearing loss in 34% of them. The reason? Mobile devices with earbuds or headphones connected are thought to be the culprit. And older individuals are also at risk.
In Individuals Who Are Under The Age of 60, What Causes Hearing Loss?
For teenagers and everybody else, there is a simple rule for earbud volume – it’s too loud if other people can hear your music. Your hearing can be injured when you listen to noises higher than 85 decibels – which is about the sound of a vacuum cleaner – over a long period of time. If the volume is cranked all the way up on a typical mobile device it’s volume is around 106 decibels. In this scenario, damage begins to develop in under 4 minutes.
Though this seems like common sense stuff, in reality kids spend upwards of two hours every day on their devices, and usually they have their earbuds connected. They’re playing games, watching videos, or listening to music during this time. And this time is getting longer each year according to current research. Studies reveal that smartphones and other screens trigger dopamine generation in younger kids’ brains, which is exactly what addictive drugs do. Kids hearing loss will continue to multiply because it will be increasingly hard to get them to put their screens down.
How Much Are Young Kids in Danger of Hearing Loss?
Obviously, loss of hearing presents several difficulties to anybody, regardless of age. Young people, though, face added issues regarding after school sports, job prospects, and even academics. Hearing loss at a young age results in problems with paying attention and understanding information during class, which disadvantages the student. It also makes playing sports much more difficult, since so much of sports involves listening to teammates and coaches give instructions and call plays. 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 entering the workforce.
Loss of hearing can also result in persistent social issues. Kids with compromised hearing have a harder time socializing with peers, which frequently results in social and emotional problems that require therapy. Mental health issues are ordinary in people of all ages who have hearing loss because they typically feel isolated and experience anxiety and depression. Mental health therapies and hearing loss treatment often go hand in hand, especially during the important developmental stages experienced by kids and teenagers.
Preventing Hearing Loss
The first rule to adhere to is the 60/60 rule – devices and earbuds should only be used for 60 minutes a day at 60% or less of the maximum volume. If you can hear your kids headphones, even if they are at 60%, you should tell them to turn the volume down.
Also older style over-the-ear headphones may be a better choice than earbuds. Conventional headphones can generate almost 10% less decibels compared to in-ear models.
Generally, though, do everything you can to reduce 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 control. And, see us immediately if you think you are already suffering from hearing loss.