In All Demographics Hearing Loss is on The Rise

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

Hearing loss is normally thought of as an older person’s issue – in fact, it’s estimated that about 50% of people who have hearing loss are 75 or older. But a new study shows 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 conducted a study of 479 freshmen spanning three high schools and discovered that 34% of those students exhibited signs of hearing loss. Why is this occurring? It’s thought that it might be from earbuds and headphones connected to mobile devices. And the young aren’t the only ones at risk.

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

For teenagers and everybody else, there is a simple rule for earbud volume – if others can hear your music, then it’s too loud. Your hearing can be injured when you listen to sounds above 85 decibels – which is about the sound of a vacuum cleaner – for a prolonged time period. A normal mobile device with the volume turned up all the way registers at about 106 decibels. In this circumstance, damage begins to develop in under 4 minutes.

While you would think that this stuff would be common sense, in reality kids spend as much as two hours a day on their devices, and usually they have their earbuds connected. They’re playing games, watching videos, or listening to music 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 with screens, in the brain’s of younger kids, which is the same reaction caused by addictive drugs. Kids hearing loss will continue to increase because it will be more and more challenging to get them to put their screens down.

How Much Are Young People in Danger of Hearing Loss?

Obviously, hearing loss presents many challenges to anyone, no matter what the age. Young people, though, face additional problems pertaining to after school sports, job prospects, or even academics. The student is disadvantaged 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 challenging, since so much of sports entails listening to coaches and teammates give instructions and call plays. Teenagers and young adults who are joining the workforce will have unnecessary challenges if their hearing loss has a detrimental effect on their confidence.

Social problems can also persist because of loss of hearing. Kids whose hearing is damaged commonly wind up needing therapy because they have a harder time with their peers due to loss of hearing. Mental health issues are common in people of all ages who suffer from hearing loss because they commonly feel isolated and experience depression and anxiety. Dealing with hearing loss in many cases must go hand-in-hand with mental health treatment, particularly in teenagers and kids during developmental years.

How You Can Avoid Loss of Hearing?

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 headphones, even if if the volume is at 60%, you should tell them to turn the volume down.

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

In general, though, do what you can to minimize 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 control. And, you should see us right away if you suspect you’re already suffering from hearing loss.

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.