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

Generally, loss of hearing is considered to be a problem only effecting older people – in fact, it’s estimated that nearly 50% of people who suffer from hearing loss are 75 or older. But a new study reveals that younger people are at risk for hearing loss – and, alarmingly, they are losing their hearing in spite of the fact that it’s completely preventable.

A study of 479 freshmen from three high schools carried out by The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing found that there were signs of hearing loss in 34% of them. Why is this happening? It’s assumed that it may be from earbuds and headphones connected to mobile devices. And older individuals are also at risk.

In Individuals Who Are Under The Age of 60, What Causes Loss of Hearing?

For teenagers and everybody else, there is a basic rule for earbud volume – the volume is too high if other people can hear your music. Your hearing can be injured when you listen to noises higher than 85 decibels – about the volume of a vacuum cleaner – for a prolonged time period. A typical mobile device with the volume turned up to the max registers at around 106 decibels. In this situation, damage begins to occur in less than 4 minutes.

While you might think that this stuff would be common sense, in reality kids spend around two hours each day on their devices, and typically they have their earbuds connected. 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 illustrate that smartphones and other screens activate dopamine production in younger kids’ brains, which is the same effect caused by addictive drugs. It will be increasingly challenging to get screens away from kids, and their hearing may suffer as a result.

The Dangers of Hearing Loss in Young People

Regardless of age, it’s obvious that loss of hearing offers several challenges. Young people, however, face added problems concerning after school sports, job prospects, and even academics. Hearing loss at a young age leads to issues with paying attention and understanding information during class, which puts the student at a disadvantage. And since sports involve a lot of listening to coaches and teammates calling plays, sports become far harder. Teenagers and younger adults who are joining the workforce will have unneeded obstacles if their hearing loss has a detrimental effect on their self-esteem.

Hearing loss can also cause persistent social struggles. Children with impaired hearing frequently end up needing therapy because they have a harder time with their friends because of loss of hearing. People who have loss of hearing can feel separated and have anxiety and depression inevitably resulting in mental health issues. Mental health treatment and hearing loss treatment often go hand in hand, especially during the significant developmental phases experienced by kids and teenagers.

Preventing Hearing Loss

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 every day. If you’re able to hear your kids headphones, even if if the volume is at 60%, you should 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 produce 6 to 9 extra decibels in comparison to traditional headphones.

Throughout the day in general, you should do anything you can to limit your exposure to loud sound. You can’t control everything, so try to make the time you’re listening to tunes headphone-free. If you do believe you’re dealing with hearing loss, you should see us as soon as possible.

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