Normally, hearing loss is considered to be a problem only impacting older people – in fact, it’s estimated that nearly 50% of people who suffer from loss of hearing are 75 or older. But new research shows that younger people are at risk for hearing loss – and, alarmingly, they are losing their hearing in spite of the fact that it’s absolutely preventable.
A study of 479 freshmen from three high schools carried out by The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing revealed that 34% of those youngsters showed signs of hearing loss. Why is this occurring? It’s assumed that it might be from earbuds and headphones connected to mobile devices. And older people are also susceptible.
In People Who Are Under The Age of 60, What Causes Loss of Hearing?
There’s a simple rule regarding earbud volume for teenagers and all other people – it’s too loud if other people can hear your music. Harm to your hearing can happen when you listen to sounds above 85 decibels – which is approximately the sound of a vacuum cleaner – for a prolonged time period. A normal mobile device with the volume cranked up all the way registers at about 106 decibels. In this situation, injury begins to develop in less than 4 minutes.
While you would think that this stuff would be common sense, the truth is kids spend as much as two hours a day using their devices, often with their earphones or earbuds plugged in. They’re playing games, watching videos, or listening to music during this time. And this time is getting longer every year according to current research. Studies reveal that smartphones and other screens activate dopamine generation in younger kids’ brains, which is literally what addictive drugs do. It will be increasingly challenging to get kids to put down their screens, and their hearing could suffer as a result.
The Risks of Hearing Loss in Young People
Irrespective of age, it’s clear that loss of hearing offers a number of challenges. But there are added problems for young people concerning job prospects, after school sports, or even academics. Hearing loss at a young age results in problems with attention span and understanding concepts in class, which puts the student at a disadvantage. And because sports require a lot of listening to coaches and teammates calling plays, sports become much more difficult. Teenagers and young adults who are going into the workforce will have unneeded challenges if their loss of hearing has a negative impact on their self-esteem.
Social issues can also persist due to hearing loss. Children whose hearing is impaired have a more difficult time interacting with friends, which typically leads to emotional and social issues that require therapy. Mental health issues are typical in people of all ages who suffer from hearing loss because they often feel isolated and have anxiety and depression. Treating hearing loss often must go hand-in-hand with mental health treatment, especially in teenagers and kids during formative years.
How You Can Prevent Loss of Hearing?
The first rule to follow is the 60/60 rule – offending devices should be at no more than 60% of their maximum volume for less than 1 hour every day. If you’re able to 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 choice than earbuds. Earbuds, placed directly in the ear can actually produce 6 to 9 extra decibels compared to conventional headphones.
Throughout the day in general, you should do anything possible to limit your exposure to loud noise. You can’t control everything, so try and make the time you’re listening to tunes headphone-free. And, see us as soon as possible if you think you are already suffering from loss of hearing.