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

Hearing loss is normally thought to be an older person’s problem – as a matter of fact, it’s estimated that around 50% of individuals who suffer from loss of hearing 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 even though it’s completely avoidable.

A study of 479 freshmen from three high schools carried out by The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing found that 34% of those students exhibited signs of hearing loss. Why is this happening? Mobile devices with earbuds or headphones connected are suspected to be the most likely culprit. And the young aren’t the only ones in danger of this.

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

There’s an easy rule concerning earbud volume for teenagers and all other people – if others can hear your music, then the volume is too high. Injury to your hearing can happen when you listen to sounds above 85 decibels – which is approximately the sound of a vacuum cleaner – over a long period of time. If the volume is turned all the way up on a standard mobile device it’s volume is about 106 decibels. In this situation, damage starts to occur in under 4 minutes.

While this seems like common sense stuff, the truth is kids spend around two hours a 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 correct, this time will only increase over the next few years. Studies reveal that dopamine is activated by smartphones and other devices that have screens, in younger kids’ brains, which is the same effect triggered by addictive drugs. It will be more and more challenging to get kids to put down their screens, and their hearing could suffer because of it.

How Much Are Young People in Danger of Hearing Loss?

Obviously, hearing loss presents several challenges to anyone, irrespective of the age. But there are added problems for young people pertaining to academics, after school sports, and even job prospects. Loss of hearing at a young age results in problems with attention span and understanding information during class, which puts the student at a disadvantage. It also makes playing sports much more challenging, since so much of sports entails listening to coaches and teammates give instructions and call plays. Early loss of hearing can have a detrimental effect on confidence also, which puts unneeded obstacles in the way of teens and young adults who are entering the workforce.

Social problems can also persist due to loss of hearing. Kids whose hearing is impaired frequently end up requiring therapy because they have a more difficult time with their friends because of loss of hearing. Mental health problems are typical in people of all ages who have hearing loss because they often feel isolated and experience anxiety and depression. Mental health treatment and hearing loss management often go hand in hand, especially in teenagers and kids during developmental years.

Preventing Hearing Loss

The first rule to adhere to is the 60/60 rule – offending devices should be at no more than 60% of their max volume for less than 1 hour per day. If your kids 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’t hear it anymore.

You may also choose to ditch the earbuds and choose the older style over-the-ear headphones. Conventional headphones can produce almost 10% less volume in comparison to in-ear models.

Throughout the day in general, you need to do anything you can to limit your exposure to loud sound. You can’t control everything, so try to make the time you’re listening to music headphone-free. If you do believe you are suffering from loss of hearing, you need to see us right away.

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