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

Typically, hearing loss is considered to be an issue only impacting older people – as a matter of fact, it’s estimated that around 50% of individuals aged 75 and older suffer from some type of hearing loss. But new research reveals that younger people are at risk for hearing loss – and, alarmingly, they are losing their hearing even though it’s absolutely preventable.

A study of 479 freshmen from three high schools carried out by The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing discovered that there were indications of hearing loss in 34% of them. The cause? Mobile devices with headphones or earbuds connected are thought to be the most likely culprit. And younger people aren’t the only ones in danger of this.

What is The Cause of Hearing Loss in People Under 60?

There’s a simple rule regarding earbud volume for teenagers and everybody else – if other people can hear your music, then the volume is too high. Your hearing can be damaged when you listen to sounds above 85 decibels – similar to the volume of a vacuum cleaner – for an extended time period. A typical mobile device with the volume turned up all the way registers at around 106 decibels. Your hearing is damaged in under 4 minutes in these situations.

While you would think that this stuff would be common sense, in reality kids spend as much as two hours every 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 activate dopamine production in younger kids’ brains, which is literally what addictive drugs do. It will be increasingly challenging to get screens away from kids, and their hearing may suffer as a result.

The Dangers of Hearing Loss in Young People

Clearly, loss of hearing presents multiple difficulties to anyone, no matter what the age. Young people, however, face additional issues concerning academics, after school sports, and even job prospects. The student is put at a disadvantage if they have a hard time hearing and comprehending concepts in class because of early loss of hearing. It also makes playing sports a lot more difficult, since so much of sports requires listening to teammates and coaches give instructions and call plays. Teenagers and younger adults who are entering the workforce will have unnecessary hurdles if their hearing loss has a detrimental effect on their confidence.

Social troubles can also persist because of hearing loss. Children with compromised hearing have a harder time interacting with friends, which typically leads to social and emotional problems that require therapy. Mental health troubles are ordinary in people of all ages who suffer from hearing loss because they typically feel isolated and have depression and anxiety. Managing hearing loss often must go hand-in-hand with mental health treatment, especially during the important formative periods 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 60 minutes per day at 60% or less of the maximum volume. If you can hear your kids music, even if if the volume is at 60%, you should ask them to turn the volume down.

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

Throughout the day in general, you should do anything you can 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 think you’re suffering from hearing loss, you need to see us as soon as possible.

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