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

Generally, loss of hearing is thought of as a problem only effecting older people – as a matter of fact, it’s estimated that about 50% of individuals who have hearing loss are 75 or older. But new research reveals that younger people are at risk for hearing loss – and, alarmingly, they are losing their hearing in spite of the fact that it’s absolutely avoidable.

The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing recently carried out research on 479 freshmen from three high schools and revealed that 34% of those youngsters showed signs of hearing loss. Why is this happening? Mobile devices with headphones or earbuds connected are suspected to be the culprit. And older people are also at risk.

What Causes Hearing Loss in People Below The Age of 60?

For teenagers and everyone else, there is a basic rule for earbud volume – it’s too loud if other people can hear your music. Your hearing can be damaged when you listen to sounds above 85 decibels – which is approximately the volume of a vacuum cleaner – for a prolonged period of time. A typical mobile device with the volume turned up all the way clocks in at around 106 decibels. Your hearing is injured in less than 4 minutes in these conditions.

While you would think that this stuff would be common sense, the reality is kids spend as much as two hours a day on their devices, and ordinarily they have their earbuds plugged in. They’re listening to music, playing games, or watching videos during this time. And this time is getting longer each year according to current research. Studies illustrate that smartphones and other screens trigger dopamine generation in younger kids’ brains, which is the same reaction triggered by addictive drugs. Kids hearing loss will continue to increase because it will be more and more difficult to get them to put their screens down.

The Dangers of Hearing Loss in Young People

Irrespective of age, it’s obvious that loss of hearing offers a number of struggles. Younger people, though, face additional issues pertaining to academics, after school sports, and even job prospects. Loss of hearing at a young age causes problems with paying attention and understanding information during class, which disadvantages the student. And since sports require a lot of listening to teammates and coaches calling plays, sports become a lot more challenging. Teenagers and young adults who are going into the workforce will have unnecessary challenges if their hearing loss has a negative impact on their confidence.

Hearing loss can also cause persistent social problems. Kids with compromised hearing frequently end up needing therapy because they have a harder time with their peers due to loss of hearing. Mental health concerns are typical in people of all ages who have hearing loss because they often feel separated and experience anxiety and depression. Mental health therapies and hearing loss treatment often go hand in hand, particularly during the significant developmental phases experienced by teenagers and kids.

How You Can Prevent Hearing Loss?

The first rule to adhere to is the 60/60 rule – devices and earbuds should only be used for 1 hour per day at 60% or less of the maximum volume. If your children listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the music while you are close to them, you should have them turn it down until you can’t hear it anymore.

You might also want to ditch the earbuds and choose the older style over-the-ear headphones. Earbuds, which are put directly in the ear, can actually generate 6 to 9 extra decibels compared to traditional headphones.

Throughout the day in general, you should do everything possible to reduce your exposure to loud noise. If you try to listen to your tunes without headphones, that is one of the few things you can keep have control of. If you do believe you are suffering from loss of hearing, you need to see us as soon as possible.