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

Traditionally, loss of hearing is considered to be an issue only effecting older people – as a matter of fact, it’s estimated that nearly 50% of individuals who suffer from hearing loss are 75 or older. And despite the fact that it’s often completely preventable, a new study reveals a shocking number of young 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. The reason? It’s thought that it could be from earbuds and headphones connected to mobile devices. And the young are not the only ones at risk.

In Individuals Who Are Under 60, What Causes Hearing Loss?

There’s an easy rule regarding earbud volume for teenagers and everybody else – it’s too loud if other people can hear your music. Your hearing can be damaged when you listen to sounds higher than 85 decibels – similar to the volume of a vacuum cleaner – over a long period of time. A typical mobile device with the volume cranked up to the max clocks in at approximately 106 decibels. Your hearing is damaged in under 4 minutes in these conditions.

While this sounds like common sense stuff, the truth is kids spend in excess of two hours a day using their devices, and normally they have their earbuds plugged in. They’re playing games, watching videos, or listening to music during this time. And if current research is to be believed, this time will only get longer over the next few years. Studies illustrate that smartphones and other screens activate dopamine production in younger kids’ brains, which is exactly what addictive drugs do. It will be increasingly challenging to get kids to put down their screens, and their hearing may suffer because of it.

How Much Are Young Kids in Danger of Hearing Loss?

Regardless of age, it’s obvious that loss of hearing offers several struggles. But there are additional problems for young people concerning after school sports, job prospects, or even academics. Hearing loss at a young age causes problems with attention span and understanding concepts in class, which disadvantages the student. And since sports involve a lot of listening to coaches and teammates calling plays, sports become a lot more challenging. Early loss of hearing can have a detrimental effect on confidence too, which puts unnecessary obstacles in the way of teens and young adults who are coming into the workforce.

Loss of hearing can also result in persistent social troubles. Kids whose hearing is damaged have a harder time socializing with friends, which often results in social and emotional problems that require therapy. Mental health concerns are typical in people of all ages who have hearing loss because they often feel separated and have depression and anxiety. Mental health treatment and hearing loss management often go hand in hand, especially during the significant developmental periods experienced by teenagers and kids.

Preventing Hearing Loss

The first rule to follow is the 60/60 rule – devices and earbuds should only be used for 1 hour a day at 60% or less of the maximum volume. If your kids listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the music while sitting close to them, you should have them turn it down until you can no longer hear it.

You might also want to say goodbye to the earbuds and choose the older style over-the-ear headphones. Conventional headphones can produce almost 10% less decibels compared to in-ear models.

In general, though, do whatever you can to reduce your exposure to loud noises throughout the day. You can’t control everything, so try and make the time you’re listening to music headphone-free. And, you should see us as soon as possible if you think you are already suffering from loss of hearing.

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