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

Traditionally, hearing loss is thought of as an issue only effecting older people – as a matter of fact, it’s estimated that nearly 50% of individuals aged 75 and older suffer from some kind of hearing loss. 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 carried out a study of 479 freshmen across three high schools and discovered that there were signs of hearing loss in 34% of them. Why is this occurring? Mobile devices with earbuds or headphones connected are suspected to be the primary cause. And younger people aren’t the only ones in danger of this.

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

There’s a simple rule regarding earbud volume for teenagers and everyone else – it’s too loud if other people can hear your music. Your hearing can be damaged when you listen to sounds higher than 85 decibels – about the volume of a vacuum cleaner – for a prolonged period of time. A normal mobile device with the volume cranked up all the way registers at around 106 decibels. In this situation, injury begins to occur in less than 4 minutes.

While you would think that this stuff would be common sense, the truth is kids spend in excess of two hours every day using their devices, often with their earphones or earbuds plugged in. During this time they’re watching videos, listening to music, or playing games. And this time is getting longer each year according to current research. Studies reveal that dopamine is triggered by smartphones and other devices that have screens, in the brain’s of younger kids, which is the same response caused by addictive drugs. Kids hearing loss will continue to multiply because it will be more and more difficult to get them to put their screens down.

How Much Are Young Kids at Risk of Hearing Loss?

Irrespective of age, it’s clear that loss of hearing presents several challenges. But there are added problems for young people pertaining to academics, after school sports, and even job prospects. The student is put at a disadvantage if they have a difficult time hearing and understanding concepts during class because of early loss of hearing. It also makes playing sports a lot more challenging, since so much of sports requires listening to coaches and teammates give instructions and call plays. Early hearing loss can have an adverse effect on confidence too, which puts unnecessary obstacles in the way of teens and younger adults who are coming into the workforce.

Social problems can also persist because of hearing loss. Children with damaged hearing frequently end up needing therapy because they have a more difficult time with their peers because of loss of hearing. Mental health troubles are common in people of all ages who suffer from hearing loss because they commonly feel isolated and experience anxiety and depression. Mental health treatment and hearing loss management often go hand in hand, especially during the important developmental stages experienced by kids and teenagers.

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 60% or less of the maximum volume. If you’re able to hear your kids headphones, even if if the volume is at 60%, you need to ask them to turn down the volume.

Also older style over-the-ear headphones may be a better choice than earbuds. Conventional headphones can generate almost 10% less decibels in comparison to in-ear models.

Throughout the day in general, you should do everything possible to minimize your exposure to loud sound. You can’t control everything, so try and make the time you’re listening to tunes headphone-free. If you do believe you’re dealing with hearing loss, you should see us right away.

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