Young woman not protecting her hearing in a loud subway.

An estimated 50% of individuals over the age of 75 have some form of hearing loss and that’s why most people consider it an issue for older people. But in spite of the fact that in younger people it’s entirely preventable, studies show that they too are in danger of developing hearing loss.

In fact, 34% of the 479 freshmen who were studied across 4 high schools exhibited symptoms of hearing loss. The cause? Scientists suspect that earbuds and headphones linked to mobile devices are contributing to the problem. And everyone’s at risk.

Why do people under 60 experience hearing loss?

If other people can hear your music, it’s too loud and that’s a basic rule for teenagers and everyone. Damage to your hearing can happen when you listen to sounds above 85 decibels – which is about the sound of a vacuum cleaner – for an extended period of time. A standard mobile device with the volume turned up to the max clocks in at around 106 decibels. Utilized in this way, 4 minutes is enough to cause damage.

It might seem as if everyone would know this but teenagers often have their headphones in for hours at a time. During this time, they’re enjoying music, playing games, and watching video. And if the latest research is to be accepted, this time will only get longer over the next several years. The release of dopamine acts in a similar way to addictive drugs and research has demonstrated that smartphones and other screens can activate dopamine release. Kids’ hearing will suffer as it becomes more challenging to get them to put their screens down.

The dangers of hearing loss in young people

Clearly, hearing loss presents numerous difficulties for anybody, regardless of age. Younger individuals, however, face additional problems regarding academics, after-school sports, and even job possibilities. Hearing loss at a young age leads to issues with paying attention and comprehending concepts during class, which puts the student at a disadvantage. Sports become particularly challenging if you can’t hear coaches and teammates calling plays and giving directions. Young adults and teenagers joining the workforce can face unnecessary roadblocks caused by hearing loss.

Hearing loss can also result in social issues. Kids who have damaged hearing have a harder time connecting with peers, which often causes social and emotional issues that require therapy. Mental health issues are prevalent in individuals of all ages who cope with hearing loss because they frequently feel isolated and experience anxiety and depression. Treating hearing loss often needs to go hand-in-hand with mental health treatment, especially during the important developmental stages experienced by kids and teenagers.

How young people can prevent hearing loss

Using earbuds or headphones for no more than 60 minutes a day and at a volume 60% of maximum or less (the 60/60 rule) is the first rule to observe. Even at 60%, if other people can still hear the sound, it needs to be turned down.

It also may be smart to switch back to over-the-ear style headphones and quit using earbuds. In comparison to traditional headphones, earbuds put inside of the ear canal can actually create 5 to 10 extra decibels.

Whatever you can do to minimize your child’s exposure to loud sounds throughout the day will be helpful. Try to make their home time free of headphone use because you can’t regulate what they are doing when they’re not home. And if you do think your child is suffering from hearing loss, you should have them evaluated right away.

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References

https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/quick-statistics-hearing
https://newsie.co.nz/news/163631-deaf-foundation-blames-earbuds-phones-teens-hearing-loss.html
https://time.com/4989275/young-children-tablets-mobile-devices/
https://www.healthyhearing.com/report/52500-Hearing-loss-among-kids-and-teens
https://hearinghealthfoundation.org/blogs/protecting-your-hearing-means-protecting-your-mental-health
https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/earbuds.html

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.

Main Line Audiology Consultants, PC