Normally, loss of hearing is thought of as an issue only effecting older people – as a matter of fact, it’s estimated that nearly 50% of people aged 75 and older struggle with some kind of hearing loss. And despite the fact that it’s often completely preventable, a new study shows a shocking number of younger people are losing their hearing.
The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing recently carried out a study of 479 freshmen across three high schools and revealed that 34% of those freshmen exhibited signs of hearing loss. Why is this happening? Mobile devices with earbuds or headphones connected are suspected to be the most likely culprit. And the young are not the only ones in danger of this.
In People Who Are Under The Age of 60, What Causes Loss of Hearing?
For teenagers and everyone else, there is a basic rule for earbud volume – it’s too loud if others can hear your music. Damage to your hearing can occur when you listen to sounds above 85 decibels – which is about the volume of a vacuum cleaner – over a long period of time. A normal mobile device with the volume turned up to the max clocks in at approximately 106 decibels. Your hearing is damaged in under 4 minutes in these conditions.
Although this seems like common sense stuff, the truth is kids spend around two hours each day using their devices, commonly with their earphones or earbuds plugged in. During this time they’re listening to music, watching videos, or playing games. And if current research is correct, this time will only get longer over the next few years. Studies show that smartphones and other screens trigger dopamine production in younger kids’ brains, which is exactly what addictive drugs do. Kids loss of hearing will continue to increase because it will be increasingly difficult to get them to put away their screens.
The Challenges of Hearing Loss in Young People
Regardless of age, it’s obvious that hearing loss offers countless difficulties. But there are additional problems for young people concerning academics, after school sports, and even job prospects. Hearing loss at a young age leads to problems with paying attention and understanding concepts during class, which puts the student at a disadvantage. And because sports require a lot of listening to teammates and coaches calling plays, sports become much harder. Teenagers and young adults who are going into the workforce will have unneeded hurdles if their hearing loss has a detrimental effect on their confidence.
Social problems can also continue due to hearing loss. Kids whose hearing is damaged have a harder time connecting with peers, which typically results in emotional and social problems that require therapy. People who suffer from loss of hearing can feel separated and have depression and anxiety inevitably resulting in mental health concerns. Mental health therapies and hearing loss management often go hand in hand, particularly in kids and teenagers during formative years.
How You Can Avoid Loss of Hearing?
The first rule to adhere to is the 60/60 rule – devices and earbuds should only be used for 1 hour per day at 60% or less of the maximum volume. If your kids listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the music while you are close to them, you should tell them to turn it down until you can’t hear it anymore.
Also older style over-the-ear headphones may be a better idea than earbuds. Traditional headphones can produce almost 10% less decibels compared to in-ear models.
Generally speaking, though, do whatever you can to reduce your exposure to loud sounds throughout the day. If you try to listen to your tunes without headphones, that is one of the few things you can control. And, you should see us right away if you think you are already suffering from loss of hearing.