Audio Life Hearing Center- Knoxville, TN

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

Typically, hearing loss is thought of as an issue only effecting older people – as a matter of fact, it’s estimated that about 50% of people aged 75 and older have some form of hearing loss. And even though it’s often completely avoidable, a new study shows a shocking number of younger people are losing their hearing.

A study of 479 freshmen from three high schools carried out by The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing revealed that 34% of those freshmen showed signs of hearing loss. Why is this occurring? It’s believed that it might be the result of earbuds and headphones connected to mobile devices. And older individuals are also at risk.

What is The Cause of Hearing Loss in People Under 60?

There’s a simple rule regarding earbud volume for teenagers and everybody else – if others can hear your music, then the volume is too high. Your hearing can be damaged when you listen to noises higher than 85 decibels – which is approximately the sound of a vacuum cleaner – over a long period of time. A normal mobile device with the volume turned up all the way registers at approximately 106 decibels. In this situation, injury starts to develop in under 4 minutes.

Though this seems like common sense stuff, the reality is kids spend around two hours a day using their devices, commonly with their earphones or earbuds connected. During this time they’re watching videos, listening to music, or playing games. And this time is getting longer each year according to current research. Studies reveal that smartphones and other screens stimulate dopamine production in younger kids’ brains, which is exactly what addictive drugs do. It will be more and more challenging to get screens away from kids, and their hearing could suffer as a result.

The Challenges of Hearing Loss in Young People

Regardless of age, it’s clear that loss of hearing presents a number of struggles. But there are additional problems for young people concerning after school sports, job prospects, or even academics. The student is disadvantaged if they have a difficult time hearing and comprehending concepts during class due to early hearing loss. It also makes participating in sports much more difficult, since so much of sports requires listening to teammates and coaches give instructions and call plays. Teenagers and younger adults who are entering the workforce will have unneeded hurdles if their hearing loss has a negative impact on their confidence.

Social troubles can also continue due to hearing loss. Children with impaired hearing commonly end up requiring therapy because they have a harder time with their peers because of loss of hearing. People who suffer from loss of hearing can feel isolated and have anxiety and depression inevitably leading to mental health problems. Mental health therapies and hearing loss treatment often go hand in hand, particularly in kids and teenagers during developmental years.

How You Can Steer Clear of Loss of Hearing?

The first rule to adhere to is the 60/60 rule – devices and earbuds should only be used for 1 hour per day at a maximum volume of 69%. If your children listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the sound while you are near them, you should have them turn it down until you can no longer hear it.

Also older style over-the-ear headphones might be a better idea than earbuds. Conventional headphones can generate almost 10% less decibels compared to in-ear models.

Throughout the day in general, you should do everything possible to reduce your exposure to loud sound. If you try to listen to your music without headphones, that is one of the few things you can keep have control of. And, see us immediately if you think you’re 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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