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

Hearing loss is normally considered an older person’s concern – in fact, it’s estimated that about 50% of people aged 75 and older suffer from some form of hearing loss. And even though it’s often completely preventable, new research reveals a shocking number of younger 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 found that 34% of those students showed signs of hearing loss. Why is this occurring? It’s suspected that it might be the result of headphones and earbuds connected to mobile devices. And younger people are not the only ones in danger of this.

In Individuals Who Are Under 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. Injury to your hearing can occur when you listen to noises above 85 decibels – about the volume of a vacuum cleaner – over a long period of time. If the volume is turned all the way up on a typical mobile device it’s volume is about 106 decibels. Your hearing is injured in under 4 minutes in these circumstances.

While you might think that this stuff would be common sense, in reality kids spend around two hours every day on their devices, and usually they have their earbuds plugged in. During this time they’re watching videos, listening to music, or playing games. And if current research is correct, this time will only increase over the next few years. Studies show that dopamine is stimulated by smartphones and other devices with screens, in younger kids’ brains, which is the same reaction caused by addictive drugs. Kids hearing loss will continue to multiply because it will be increasingly challenging to get them to put away their screens.

How Much Are Young People at Risk of Hearing Loss?

Irrespective of age, it’s clear that loss of hearing presents many struggles. Young people, however, have to deal with additional issues regarding job prospects, after school sports, or even academics. The student is disadvantaged if they have a hard time hearing and understanding concepts during class due to early hearing loss. And because sports involve a lot of listening to coaches and teammates calling plays, sports become a lot harder. Early loss of hearing can have a detrimental effect on confidence as well, which puts unnecessary hurdles in the way of teens and younger adults who are entering the workforce.

Social troubles can also continue due to loss of hearing. Kids whose hearing is damaged often wind up needing therapy because they have a more difficult time with their peers due to loss of hearing. Mental health concerns are ordinary in people of all ages who have hearing loss because they commonly feel isolated and experience anxiety and depression. Dealing with hearing loss in many cases must go hand-in-hand with mental health therapy, especially during the significant formative phases experienced by kids and teenagers.

How You Can Prevent Loss of Hearing?

The first rule to follow is the 60/60 rule – offending devices should be at less than 60% of their maximum volume for less than 1 hour a day. If your children listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the sound while sitting near them, you should have them turn it down until you can’t hear it anymore.

You might also choose to ditch the earbuds and go with 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.

Throughout the day in general, you should do everything possible to limit your exposure to loud noise. If you try to listen to your music without headphones, that is one of the few things you can control. If you do suspect you’re dealing with loss of hearing, you should see us as soon as possible.

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