Evanston Audiology - Evanston, IL

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

Typically, hearing loss is considered to be a problem only effecting older people – as a matter of fact, it’s estimated that around 50% of individuals who suffer from hearing loss are 75 or older. And even though it’s often totally avoidable, new research reveals an alarming number of younger people are losing their hearing.

The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing recently carried out research on 479 freshmen spanning three high schools and revealed that 34% of those youngsters showed signs of hearing loss. The reason? Mobile devices with earbuds or headphones connected are suspected to be the primary cause. And the young are not the only ones in danger of this.

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

There’s a very simple rule regarding earbud volume for teenagers and everyone else – if other people can hear your music, then it’s too loud. Your hearing can be injured when you listen to noises above 85 decibels – which is approximately the volume of a vacuum cleaner – for an extended period of time. If the volume is cranked all the way up on a normal mobile device it’s volume is around 106 decibels. In this scenario, injury begins to occur in less than 4 minutes.

Though this sounds like common sense stuff, in reality kids spend around two hours each day on their devices, commonly with their earphones or earbuds connected. They’re listening to music, playing games, or watching videos during this time. And if current research is to be believed, this time will only increase over the next few years. Studies reveal that smartphones and other screens trigger dopamine generation in younger kids’ brains, which is literally what addictive drugs do. It will be increasingly difficult to get kids to put down their screens, and their hearing may suffer as a result.

How Much Are Young People at Risk of Hearing Loss?

Clearly, hearing loss presents several struggles to anyone, regardless of age. Younger people, however, have to deal with additional problems concerning after school sports, job prospects, and even academics. The student is disadvantaged if they have a hard time hearing and understanding concepts in class because of early hearing loss. It also makes playing sports much more difficult, since so much of sports entails listening to teammates and coaches give instructions and call plays. Teenagers and young adults who are joining the workforce will have unnecessary hurdles if their loss of hearing has a negative effect on their self-esteem.

Hearing loss can also result in persistent social struggles. Kids whose hearing is damaged often end up requiring therapy because they have a harder time with their friends due to loss of hearing. Mental health problems are ordinary in people of all ages who have hearing loss because they commonly feel separated and have anxiety and depression. Mental health treatment and hearing loss treatment often go hand in hand, particularly during the important developmental stages experienced by teenagers and kids.

How You Can Avoid Loss of Hearing?

The first rule to follow is the 60/60 rule – offending devices should be at less than 60% of their maximum volume for less than 1 hour a 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. Earbuds, which are put directly in the ear, can actually produce 6 to 9 extra decibels in comparison to traditional headphones.

Throughout the day in general, you should do anything possible to minimize your exposure to loud noise. If you try to listen to your music without headphones, that is one of the few things you can control. And, see us immediately if you think you are already suffering from loss of hearing.

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.
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