An estimated 50% of individuals over the age of 75 have some form of hearing loss and that’s why most people consider it an issue for older people. But research demonstrates that younger individuals are at risk for hearing loss – and, alarmingly, they are losing their hearing in spite of the fact that it’s totally preventable.
One study of 479 freshmen across three high schools discovered that 34% of those students showed indications of hearing loss. The cause? The concept is that mobile devices with earbuds connected are contributing to the issue. And everyone’s at risk.
What causes hearing loss in individuals under 60?
If others can hear your music, it’s too loud and that’s a general rule for teenagers and everyone. Damage to your hearing can occur when you listen to sounds above 85 decibels – which is about the sound of a vacuum cleaner – for an extended period of time. Most mobile devices can go well above 105dB. Used in this way, 4 minutes is enough to cause injury.
While this sounds like common sense stuff, the truth is that kids spend upwards of two hours every day on their devices, frequently with their earphones or earbuds in. During this time, they’re enjoying music, playing games, and watching video. And this will only increase over the next several years, if we’re to believe present research. The release of dopamine acts in a similar way to addictive drugs and studies have revealed that smartphones and other screens can stimulate the release of dopamine. Kids’ hearing will suffer as it becomes more difficult to get them to put their screens down.
The risks of hearing loss in young people
Regardless of age, hearing loss obviously presents a number of obstacles. Younger individuals, however, face added issues with regards to academics, after-school sports, and even job prospects. Students with hearing loss face a really difficult time hearing and understanding concepts. Sports become especially hard if you can’t hear coaches and teammates calling plays and giving directions. Young adults and teenagers joining the workforce can face unnecessary obstacles caused by hearing loss.
Social issues can also continue due to hearing loss. Kids frequently develop emotional and social issues which can require therapy if they have hearing loss. Mental health issues are prevalent in people of all ages who have hearing loss because they frequently feel isolated and experience anxiety and depression. Treating hearing loss often needs to go hand-in-hand with mental health treatment, especially during the crucial developmental stages experienced by kids and teenagers.
Avoiding hearing loss when you’re young
Using earbuds or headphones for no more than 60 minutes a day and at a volume 60% of maximum or less (the 60/60 rule) is the first rule to adhere to. Even at 60%, if other people can still hear the music, it needs to be turned down.
It also may be smart to change back to over-the-ear style headphones and stop using earbuds. In comparison to traditional headphones, earbuds placed inside of the ear canal can actually create 5 to 10 extra decibels.
Generally, though, do what you can to limit your child’s exposure to loud sounds during the day. You can’t control everything they do while at school or on the bus, so try to make the time they’re at home free of headphones. And you should get a hearing examination for your child if you think they might already be suffering from hearing loss.