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

Typically, hearing loss is considered to be an issue only effecting older people – in fact, it’s estimated that nearly 50% of people who have 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 in spite of the fact that it’s totally avoidable.

The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing recently carried out research on 479 freshmen from three high schools and found that there were signs of hearing loss in 34% of them. Why is this occurring? Mobile devices with earbuds or headphones connected are suspected to be the most likely culprit. And older individuals are also at risk.

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

For teenagers and everyone else, there is a simple rule for earbud volume – the volume is too high 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 – for a prolonged time period. A typical mobile device with the volume turned up to the max clocks in at around 106 decibels. In this scenario, injury starts to occur in under 4 minutes.

While this sounds like common sense stuff, in reality kids spend around two hours a day on their devices, commonly with their earphones or earbuds connected. During this time they’re watching videos, listening to music, or playing games. And if current research is correct, this time will only get longer over the next few years. Studies reveal that smartphones and other screens stimulate dopamine generation in the brain’s of younger kids, which is the same reaction caused by addictive drugs. Kids loss of hearing will continue to multiply because it will be increasingly difficult to get them to put their screens down.

How Much Are Young Kids in Danger of Hearing Loss?

Clearly, hearing loss offers multiple challenges to anybody, irrespective of the age. Young people, however, have to deal with added problems concerning job prospects, after school sports, or even academics. The student is disadvantaged if they have a difficult time hearing and understanding concepts in class because of early hearing loss. It also makes participating in sports a lot 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 as well, which puts unnecessary hurdles in the way of teenagers and young adults who are coming into the workforce.

Social problems can also continue because of hearing loss. Children whose hearing is impaired have a harder time connecting with friends, which typically leads to social and emotional problems that require therapy. People who have loss of hearing can feel separated and have anxiety and depression inevitably leading to mental health issues. Mental health treatment and hearing loss treatment often go hand in hand, especially in kids and teenagers during developmental years.

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 max volume for less than 1 hour a day. If your children listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the sound while you are near them, you should tell them to turn it down until you can no longer hear it.

Also older style over-the-ear headphones may be a better choice than earbuds. Traditional headphones can produce almost 10% less decibels in comparison to in-ear models.

Throughout the day in general, you should do anything you can to minimize your exposure to loud noise. If you try to listen to your tunes without headphones, that is one of the few things you can control. If you do believe you’re suffering from hearing loss, you should see us right away.

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