An estimated 50% of people over the age of 75 have some form of hearing loss and that’s why most people think of it as an issue for older people. But despite the fact that in younger people it’s entirely preventable, studies show that they too are at risk of developing hearing loss.
One study of 479 freshmen from three high schools found that 34% of those students showed signs of hearing loss. What could be causing this? The thought is that mobile devices with earbuds connected are contributing to the problem. And the young are not the only ones at risk.
Why do people under 60 get hearing loss?
If other people can hear your music, it’s too loud and that’s a general rule for teenagers and everybody. If you listen to sounds louder than 85dB (about the volume of a vacuum cleaner) for extended time periods, your hearing can be damaged. Most mobile devices can go well above 105dB. Utilized in this way, 4 minutes is enough to cause injury.
It might seem like everyone would know this but teenagers frequently have their headphones in for hours at a time. During this time, they’re enjoying music, playing games, and watching video. And this will only increase over the next several years, if we’re to believe present research. Studies show that smartphones and other screens trigger dopamine production in younger kids’ brains, which is the same response caused by addictive drugs. Kids’ hearing will suffer as it becomes more difficult to get them to put their screens down.
The dangers of hearing loss in young people
Regardless of age, hearing loss clearly presents a number of challenges. Younger people, however, face added problems regarding academics, after-school activities, and even job prospects. Hearing loss at a young age leads to issues with paying attention and comprehending concepts during class, which puts the student at a disadvantage. Sports become especially difficult if you can’t hear coaches and teammates calling plays and giving directions. Young adults and teenagers entering the workforce can encounter unnecessary obstacles due to hearing loss.
Social issues can also continue as a result of hearing loss. Kids frequently develop emotional and social problems which can require therapy if they have hearing loss. Mental health problems are prevalent in individuals of all ages who have hearing loss because they often feel isolated and experience depression and anxiety. Treating hearing loss often needs to go hand-in-hand with mental health treatment, especially during the important developmental stages experienced by kids and teenagers.
How young people can avoid hearing loss
Using earbuds or headphones for no more than 60 minutes a day and at a volume 60% of max or less (the 60/60 rule) is the first rule to observe. Even at 60%, if other people can still hear the music, it needs to be turned down.
It also might be smart to change back to over-the-ear style headphones and stop using earbuds. Earbuds placed directly into the ear can actually generate 6 to 9 extra decibels compared to traditional headphones.
Whatever you can do to reduce your child’s exposure to loud sounds throughout the day will help. You can’t control everything they do while at school or on the bus, so try to make the time they’re at home free of headphones. And you need to get a hearing assessment for your child if you think they might already be dealing with hearing loss.
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