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

Typically, loss of hearing is thought of as a problem only impacting older people – as a matter of fact, it’s estimated that about 50% of individuals who suffer from loss of hearing are 75 or older. And despite the fact that it’s frequently completely avoidable, a new study reveals an alarming 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 there were indications of hearing loss in 34% of them. The cause? Mobile devices with earbuds or headphones connected are suspected to be the culprit. And the young are not the only ones in danger of this.

In People Who Are Under The Age of 60, What Causes Hearing Loss?

There’s a simple rule regarding earbud volume for teenagers and everyone else – the volume is too high if others can hear your music. Harm to your hearing can develop 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 to the max clocks in at about 106 decibels. In this circumstance, damage begins to occur in under 4 minutes.

Although this seems like common sense stuff, the truth is kids spend as much as two hours every day using their devices, often with their earphones or earbuds plugged in. During this time they’re listening to music, watching videos, or playing games. And this time is increasing every year according to current research. Studies demonstrate that dopamine is stimulated by smartphones and other devices with screens, in the brain’s of younger kids, which is the same response caused by addictive drugs. Kids hearing loss will continue to multiply because it will be increasingly hard to get them to put away their screens.

The Dangers of Hearing Loss in Young People

Regardless of age, it’s clear that hearing loss offers numerous challenges. But there are additional issues for young people concerning after school sports, job prospects, and even academics. Hearing loss at a young age results in issues with attention span and understanding information in class, which disadvantages the student. It also makes participating in sports a lot more difficult, since so much of sports entails listening to teammates and coaches give instructions and call plays. Early loss of hearing can have an adverse effect on confidence too, which puts unnecessary obstacles in the way of teens and young adults who are joining the workforce.

Hearing loss can also lead to persistent social problems. Kids with compromised hearing often end up requiring therapy because they have a harder time with their friends due to loss of hearing. People who have loss of hearing can feel isolated and have depression and anxiety inevitably leading to mental health concerns. Mental health treatment and hearing loss treatment often go hand in hand, especially during the significant formative phases experienced by kids and teenagers.

Preventing Hearing Loss

The first rule to follow 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 kids listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the music while you are close to them, you should tell them to turn it down until you can’t hear it anymore.

Also older style over-the-ear headphones may be a better choice than earbuds. Earbuds, which are put directly in the ear, can actually generate 6 to 9 extra decibels compared to conventional headphones.

Throughout the day in general, you need to do anything you can to reduce your exposure to loud sound. You can’t control everything, so try and make the time you’re listening to tunes headphone-free. If you do suspect you are suffering from hearing loss, you need to see us right away.