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

Hearing loss is traditionally considered an older person’s issue – in fact, it’s estimated that nearly 50% of people aged 75 and up struggle with some form of hearing loss. 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 totally avoidable.

The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing recently carried out research on 479 freshmen spanning three high schools and found that there were signs of hearing loss in 34% of them. The cause? Mobile devices with headphones or earbuds 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?

There’s a simple rule regarding earbud volume for teenagers and everyone else – if others can hear your music, then the volume is too high. Your hearing can be injured when you listen to noises higher than 85 decibels – about the volume of a vacuum cleaner – over a long time period. A normal mobile device with the volume turned up all the way registers at around 106 decibels. In this scenario, damage starts to occur in less than 4 minutes.

While this sounds like common sense stuff, the truth is kids spend as much as two hours a day using their devices, often with their earphones or earbuds connected. They’re listening to music, playing games, or watching videos during this time. And this time is getting longer each year according to current research. Studies reveal that dopamine is triggered by smartphones and other devices that have screens, in the brain’s of younger kids, which is exactly what addictive drugs do. It will be more and more challenging to get kids to put down their screens, and their hearing could suffer as a result.

How Much Are Young Kids at Risk of Hearing Loss?

Clearly, loss of hearing offers numerous struggles to anyone, irrespective of the age. Younger people, though, have to deal with additional problems regarding job prospects, after school sports, or even academics. The student is disadvantaged if they have a difficult time hearing and comprehending concepts during class due to early loss of hearing. And because sports involve a lot of listening to coaches and teammates calling plays, sports become far more challenging. Teenagers and younger adults who are joining the workforce will have unnecessary challenges if their loss of hearing has a detrimental impact on their confidence.

Loss of hearing can also cause persistent social troubles. Kids with impaired hearing often end up requiring therapy because they have a more difficult time with their friends because of loss of hearing. Mental health problems are common in people of all ages who suffer from hearing loss because they commonly feel isolated and experience depression and anxiety. Mental health treatment and hearing loss management often go hand in hand, especially during the important developmental stages experienced by teenagers and kids.

Preventing Hearing Loss

The first rule to adhere to is the 60/60 rule – offending devices should be at less than 60% of their max volume for no more than 1 hour every day. If you can hear your kids music, even if if the volume is at 60%, you should ask them to turn down the volume.

Also older style over-the-ear headphones might be a better choice than earbuds. Traditional headphones can produce almost 10% less decibels in comparison to in-ear models.

Throughout the day in general, you should do anything you can to limit your exposure to loud noise. You can’t control everything, so try and make the time you’re listening to music free of headphones. And, see us right away if you think you’re already suffering from hearing loss.

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