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

Typically, hearing loss is thought of as an issue only effecting older people – in fact, it’s estimated that around 50% of individuals aged 75 and older suffer from some kind of hearing loss. But new research 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 absolutely preventable.

The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing recently conducted research on 479 freshmen across three high schools and discovered that 34% of those freshmen exhibited signs of hearing loss. The reason? It’s assumed that it may be the result of headphones and earbuds connected to mobile devices. And older people are also susceptible.

What is The Cause of Hearing Loss in People Below The Age of 60?

For teenagers and everybody else, there is a basic rule for earbud volume – if someone else can hear your music, then it’s too loud. Injury to your hearing can develop when you listen to sounds higher than 85 decibels – which is about the volume of a vacuum cleaner – over a long time period. If the volume is turned all the way up on a typical mobile device it’s volume is approximately 106 decibels. In this circumstance, damage begins to develop in under 4 minutes.

While you would think that this stuff would be common sense, the truth is kids spend as much as two hours every day using their devices, and normally they have their earbuds connected. They’re listening to music, playing games, or watching videos during this time. And this time is increasing 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 the same response triggered by addictive drugs. It will be increasingly difficult to get screens away from kids, and their hearing may suffer as a result.

How Much Are Young Kids in Danger of Hearing Loss?

Regardless of age, it’s obvious that hearing loss presents numerous difficulties. Young people, however, face additional issues regarding after school sports, job prospects, or even academics. The student is disadvantaged if they have a difficult time hearing and understanding concepts in class due to early hearing loss. It also makes playing sports much more challenging, since so much of sports requires listening to teammates and coaches give instructions and call plays. Early hearing loss can have a detrimental effect on confidence also, which puts unneeded roadblocks in the way of teens and young adults who are joining the workforce.

Social struggles can also persist because of loss of hearing. Kids with damaged hearing commonly end up needing therapy because they have a harder time with their peers due to loss of hearing. Mental health problems are typical in people of all ages who have hearing loss because they often feel separated and have anxiety and depression. Mental health therapies and hearing loss management often go hand in hand, particularly during the significant developmental stages experienced by teenagers and kids.

How You Can Prevent Hearing Loss?

The first rule to follow 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 you’re able to hear your kids music, even if they are at 60%, you need to tell them to turn down the volume.

You may also want to say goodbye to the earbuds and go with the older style over-the-ear headphones. Traditional headphones can produce almost 10% less volume compared to in-ear models.

Generally speaking, though, do everything you can to limit your exposure to loud sounds throughout the day. If you try to listen to your music without headphones, that is one of the few things you can keep have control of. And, you should see us as soon as possible if you suspect you are already suffering from loss of hearing.

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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