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

Normally, loss of hearing is thought of as a problem only effecting older people – as a matter of fact, it’s estimated that nearly 50% of individuals who suffer from hearing loss are 75 or older. But new research reveals that younger people are at risk for hearing loss – and, alarmingly, they are losing their hearing even though it’s completely preventable.

The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing recently carried out research on 479 freshmen across three high schools and revealed that there were indications of hearing loss in 34% of them. Why is this occurring? It’s assumed that it might be from headphones and earbuds connected to mobile devices. And the young aren’t the only ones in danger of this.

What Causes Hearing Loss in People Below The Age of 60?

There’s a very simple rule regarding earbud volume for teenagers and everybody else – if other people can hear your music, then it’s too loud. Your hearing can be damaged when you listen to sounds above 85 decibels – which is about the sound of a vacuum cleaner – for a prolonged period of time. A typical mobile device with the volume turned up to the max clocks in at approximately 106 decibels. In this circumstance, damage starts to develop in under 4 minutes.

While you would think that this stuff would be common sense, the reality is kids spend in excess of two hours a day using their devices, and normally they have their 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 show that dopamine is stimulated by smartphones and other devices that have screens, in younger kids’ brains, which is literally what addictive drugs do. It will be more and more challenging to get screens away from kids, and their hearing may suffer as a result.

The Dangers of Hearing Loss in Young People

Obviously, hearing loss presents multiple difficulties to anyone, no matter what the age. But there are additional problems for young people concerning academics, after school sports, and even job prospects. The student is put at a disadvantage if they have a difficult time hearing and understanding concepts during class due to early hearing loss. It also makes playing sports a lot more difficult, since so much of sports includes listening to teammates and coaches give instructions and call plays. Early hearing loss can have an adverse effect on confidence too, which puts unnecessary obstacles in the way of teenagers and young adults who are joining the workforce.

Loss of hearing can also cause persistent social troubles. Children with damaged hearing have a more difficult time interacting with peers, which frequently results in emotional and social struggles that require therapy. People who suffer from hearing loss can feel separated and have depression and anxiety inevitably causing mental health problems. Mental health therapies and hearing loss treatment often go hand in hand, particularly during the significant formative periods experienced by teenagers and kids.

How You Can Avoid Hearing Loss?

The first rule to adhere to is the 60/60 rule – devices and earbuds should only be used for 60 minutes a day at 60% or less of the maximum volume. If you can hear your kids music, even if they are at 60%, you should tell them to turn down the volume.

You may also want to get rid of the earbuds and go with the older style over-the-ear headphones. 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 limit your exposure to loud noise. You can’t control everything, so try and make the time you’re listening to tunes free of headphones. If you do think you are dealing with loss of hearing, you need to see us right away.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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