Typically, hearing loss is considered to be an issue only effecting older people – in fact, it’s estimated that nearly 50% of individuals aged 75 and up struggle with some type of hearing loss. And even though it’s frequently totally preventable, a new study reveals a shocking 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 discovered that 34% of those freshmen exhibited signs of hearing loss. The reason? Mobile devices with headphones or earbuds connected are thought to be the most likely culprit. And older individuals are also at risk.
In People Who Are Under The Age of 60, What Causes Hearing Loss?
For teenagers and everyone else, there is a basic rule for earbud volume – if other people can hear your music, then the volume is too high. Damage to your hearing can occur when you listen to sounds above 85 decibels – similar to the volume of a vacuum cleaner – over a long time period. If the volume is cranked all the way up on a standard mobile device it’s volume is approximately 106 decibels. In this situation, damage begins to develop in less than 4 minutes.
While this seems like common sense stuff, the truth is kids spend around two hours a day on their devices, commonly with their earphones or earbuds connected. They’re listening to music, playing games, or watching videos during this time. And this time is getting longer each year according to current research. Studies demonstrate that dopamine is activated by smartphones and other devices that have screens, in younger kids’ brains, which is the same response caused by addictive drugs. Kids loss of hearing will continue to multiply because it will be increasingly difficult to get them to put their screens down.
How Much Are Young People in Danger of Hearing Loss?
Obviously, loss of hearing presents several difficulties to anybody, regardless of age. Young people, however, have to deal with added issues concerning academics, after school sports, and even job prospects. Loss of hearing at a young age leads to issues with paying attention and understanding concepts during class, which puts the student at a disadvantage. It also makes participating in sports a lot more difficult, since so much of sports includes listening to coaches and teammates give instructions and call plays. Teenagers and younger adults who are joining the workforce will have unnecessary obstacles if their hearing loss has a negative impact on their confidence.
Social struggles can also continue because of hearing loss. Kids with damaged hearing commonly wind up needing therapy because they have a more difficult time with their peers due to loss of hearing. People who suffer from hearing loss can feel isolated and have anxiety and depression inevitably leading to mental health issues. Dealing with hearing loss often must go hand-in-hand with mental health treatment, particularly during the important developmental periods experienced by kids and teenagers.
Preventing Hearing Loss
The first rule to follow is the 60/60 rule – offending devices should be at less than 60% of their maximum volume for no more than 1 hour every day. If your kids listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the sound while you are near them, you should tell them to turn it down until you can no longer hear it.
You may also want to ditch the earbuds and choose the older style over-the-ear headphones. Earbuds, which are put directly in the ear, can actually generate 6 to 9 extra decibels compared to traditional headphones.
Generally, though, do what you can to minimize your exposure to loud noises throughout the day. You can’t control everything, so try to make the time you’re listening to tunes headphone-free. And, you should see us immediately if you suspect you’re already suffering from loss of hearing.