Traditionally, loss of hearing is considered to be an issue only impacting older people – in fact, it’s estimated that around 50% of individuals who have hearing loss are 75 or older. But new research shows that younger people are at risk for hearing loss – and, alarmingly, they are losing their hearing even though it’s totally avoidable.
The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing recently conducted research on 479 freshmen from three high schools and revealed that there were indications of hearing loss in 34% of them. The cause? Mobile devices with earbuds or headphones connected are suspected to be the culprit. And older individuals are also at risk.
In Individuals Who Are Under The Age of 60, What Causes Hearing Loss?
There’s an easy rule concerning earbud volume for teenagers and all other people – if other people can hear your music, then the volume is too high. Your hearing can be damaged when you listen to noises above 85 decibels – which is approximately the sound of a vacuum cleaner – over a long period of time. A normal mobile device with the volume turned up all the way registers at about 106 decibels. In this circumstance, injury starts to occur in less than 4 minutes.
Although this sounds like common sense stuff, the reality is kids spend around two hours every day using their devices, and normally they have their earbuds connected. During this time they’re listening to music, watching videos, or playing games. And this time is increasing each year according to current research. Studies show 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 more and more hard to get them to put their screens down.
How Much Are Young People in Danger of Hearing Loss?
Obviously, loss of hearing offers multiple struggles to anybody, no matter what the age. But there are added issues for young people regarding after school sports, job prospects, and even academics. The student is disadvantaged if they have a difficult time hearing and comprehending concepts in class due to early loss of hearing. It also makes playing sports much more difficult, since so much of sports entails listening to coaches and teammates give instructions and call plays. Early loss of hearing can have a detrimental effect on confidence as well, which puts unneeded obstacles in the way of teenagers and younger adults who are joining the workforce.
Hearing loss can also result in persistent social struggles. Children whose hearing is damaged commonly wind up requiring therapy because they have a harder time with their friends because of loss of hearing. Mental health concerns are ordinary in people of all ages who suffer from hearing loss because they commonly feel separated and experience anxiety and depression. Mental health treatment and hearing loss treatment often go hand in hand, especially in kids and teenagers during formative years.
Avoiding Hearing Loss
The first rule to adhere to is the 60/60 rule – offending devices should be at no more than 60% of their maximum volume for no more than 1 hour a day. If you can hear your kids music, even if if the volume is at 60%, you need to ask them to turn the volume down.
Also older style over-the-ear headphones might be a better idea than earbuds. Earbuds, placed directly in the ear can actually generate 6 to 9 extra decibels compared to conventional headphones.
Throughout the day in general, you should do anything possible to reduce your exposure to loud noise. You can’t control everything, so try to make the time you’re listening to music headphone-free. And, see us right away if you think you are already suffering from hearing loss.