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

Generally, hearing loss is considered to be a problem only impacting older people – in fact, it’s estimated that about 50% of individuals aged 75 and older have some kind of hearing loss. And despite the fact that it’s often totally avoidable, new research reveals a shocking number of younger people are losing their hearing.

The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing recently carried out a study of 479 freshmen across three high schools and revealed that 34% of those freshmen exhibited signs of hearing loss. The reason? Mobile devices with earbuds or headphones connected are thought to be the most likely culprit. And older people are also susceptible.

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

For teenagers and everyone else, there is a simple rule for earbud volume – if someone else can hear your music, then it’s too loud. Your hearing can be damaged when you listen to sounds higher than 85 decibels – which is about the sound of a vacuum cleaner – for a prolonged period of time. If the volume is turned all the way up on a standard mobile device it’s volume is around 106 decibels. Your hearing is injured in less than 4 minutes in these circumstances.

While you might think that this stuff would be common sense, in reality kids spend in excess of two hours every day on their devices, and ordinarily they have their earbuds plugged in. They’re listening to music, playing games, or watching videos during this time. And if current research is correct, this time will only increase over the next few years. Studies illustrate that smartphones and other screens stimulate dopamine generation in younger kids’ brains, which is exactly what addictive drugs do. Kids hearing loss will continue to multiply because it will be increasingly difficult to get them to put their screens down.

How Much Are Young Kids at Risk of Hearing Loss?

Clearly, loss of hearing offers multiple difficulties to anyone, no matter what the age. Young people, however, face added problems concerning job prospects, after school sports, or even academics. The student is put at a disadvantage if they have a difficult time hearing and comprehending concepts in class because of early loss of hearing. It also makes playing sports a lot more difficult, since so much of sports entails listening to coaches and teammates give instructions and call plays. Teenagers and younger adults who are joining the workforce will have unnecessary hurdles if their hearing loss has a detrimental effect on their confidence.

Social problems can also continue because of loss of hearing. Kids with compromised hearing commonly wind up requiring therapy because they have a harder time with their peers because of loss of hearing. Mental health issues are typical in people of all ages who have hearing loss because they often feel isolated and have anxiety and depression. Mental health treatment and hearing loss management often go hand in hand, especially during the significant developmental stages experienced by teenagers and kids.

Preventing Hearing Loss

The first rule to follow is the 60/60 rule – devices and earbuds should only be used for 60 minutes per day at a maximum volume of 69%. If your children listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the sound while sitting near them, you should have them turn it down until you can no longer hear it.

Also older style over-the-ear headphones might be a better idea than earbuds. Earbuds, which are put directly in the ear, can actually produce 6 to 9 extra decibels compared to traditional headphones.

In general, though, do whatever you can to limit your exposure to loud noises 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. If you do believe you’re suffering from hearing loss, you should see us right away.

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