An estimated 50% of people 75 or over have some type of hearing loss and that’s why most people consider it an issue for older people. But studies show that younger people are at risk for hearing loss – and, alarmingly, they’re losing their hearing despite the fact that it’s completely preventable.
In fact, 34% of the 479 freshmen who were studied across 4 high schools showed signs of hearing loss. The cause? Researchers believe that earbuds and headphones connected to mobile devices are contributing to the issue. And everyone’s at risk.
Why do individuals under 60 get hearing loss?
If others can hear your music, it’s too loud and that’s a basic rule for teenagers and everyone. Harm to your hearing can occur when you listen to sounds louder than 85 decibels – which is approximately the volume of a vacuum cleaner – for an extended time period. A standard mobile device with the volume turned up to the max clocks in at about 106 decibels. Utilized in this way, 4 minutes is enough to cause injury.
It might seem like everybody would know this but teenagers often have their headphones in for hours at a time. They’re playing games, watching videos, or listening to music during this time. And this will only increase over the next several years, if we’re to believe present research. Research shows that smartphones and other screens stimulate dopamine production in younger kids’ brains, which is the same reaction caused by addictive drugs. It will become harder and harder to get screens away from kids, and their hearing could suffer because of it.
Young people are in danger of hearing loss
Clearly, hearing loss presents multiple obstacles for anybody, regardless of age. For younger individuals though, after school activities, sports, and job possibilities create additional difficulties. Students with hearing loss face an especially difficult time hearing and understanding concepts. It also makes playing sports much harder, since so much of sports involves listening to coaches and teammates giving directions and calling plays. Young adults and teenagers entering the workforce can face unnecessary obstacles caused by hearing loss.
Social issues can also continue as a result of hearing loss. Kids often develop emotional and social issues which can require therapy if they have hearing loss. Individuals who suffer with hearing loss frequently feel isolated and experience mental health problems like depression and anxiety. Mental health treatment and hearing loss management frequently go together and this is particularly true with kids and teenagers in their early developmental years.
Avoiding hearing loss when you’re young
Using earbuds or headphones for no more than 60 minutes per day and at a volume 60% of maximum or less (the 60/60 rule) is the first rule to follow. Even at 60%, if others can still hear the sound, it needs to be turned down.
You might also want to replace the earbuds and go with the older style over-the-ear headphones. In comparison to traditional headphones, earbuds placed inside of the ear canal can actually produce 5 to 10 extra decibels.
Generally, though, do what you can to control your child’s exposure to loud sounds throughout the day. You can’t regulate everything they do while at school or on the bus, so try to make the time they’re at home free of headphones. And if you do believe your child is experiencing hearing loss, you should have them evaluated right away.