Young woman not protecting her hearing in a loud subway.

An estimated 50% of people over the age of 75 have some form of hearing loss and that’s why most people consider it a problem for older people. But in spite of the fact that in younger individuals it’s totally preventable, studies show that they too are at risk of experiencing hearing loss.

As a matter of fact, 34% of the 479 freshmen who were studied across 4 high schools demonstrated symptoms of hearing loss. The cause? Scientists believe that earbuds and headphones connected to mobile devices are contributing to the issue. And the young aren’t the only ones at risk.

Why do people under 60 experience hearing loss?

If other people can hear your music, it’s too loud and that’s a general rule for teenagers and everyone. Harm to your hearing can occur when you listen to sounds above 85 decibels – which is approximately the sound of a vacuum cleaner – for an extended period of time. A normal mobile device with the volume turned up to the max clocks in at about 106 decibels. Used in this way, 4 minutes is enough to cause damage.

It may seem as if everybody would know this but teenagers frequently have their headphones in for hours at a time. During this time, they’re listening to music, playing games, and watching video. And this will only increase over the next few years, if we’re to believe current research. Research shows that smartphones and other screens trigger dopamine production in younger kids’ brains, which is the same reaction caused by addictive drugs. Kids’ hearing will suffer as it becomes harder to get them to put their screens down.

Young people are in danger of hearing loss

Clearly, hearing loss presents numerous difficulties for anyone, regardless of age. For younger people though, after school activities, sports, and job prospects create additional difficulties. Hearing loss at a young age leads to issues with paying attention and comprehending concepts during class, which puts the student at a disadvantage. It also makes participating in sports much harder, since so much of sports requires listening to coaches and teammates giving directions and calling plays. Young adults and teenagers entering the workforce can experience unnecessary obstacles due to hearing loss.

Social problems can also persist due to hearing loss. Kids often develop emotional and social issues which can require therapy if they have hearing loss. Mental health problems are prevalent in people of all ages who suffer from hearing loss because they frequently feel isolated and experience depression and anxiety. Mental health treatment and hearing loss management frequently go together and this is particularly true with kids and teenagers in their early developmental years.

How young people can avoid hearing loss

The first rule to observe is the 60/60 rule – devices and earbuds should only be used for 60 minutes a day at 60% or less of the highest volume. If your kids listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear them while sitting near them, you should have them turn it down until you can’t hear it.

You might also want to replace the earbuds and go with the older style over-the-ear headphones. Earbuds placed directly in the ear can actually produce 6 to 9 extra decibels compared to traditional headphones.

Generally, though, do what you can to reduce your child’s exposure to loud sounds during the day. You can’t control everything they do during school or on the bus, so try to make the time they’re at home free of headphones. And if you do suspect your child is experiencing hearing loss, you should have them evaluated as soon as possible.

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References

https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/quick-statistics-hearing
https://newsie.co.nz/news/163631-deaf-foundation-blames-earbuds-phones-teens-hearing-loss.html
https://time.com/4989275/young-children-tablets-mobile-devices/
https://www.healthyhearing.com/report/52500-Hearing-loss-among-kids-and-teens
https://hearinghealthfoundation.org/blogs/protecting-your-hearing-means-protecting-your-mental-health
https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/earbuds.html

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.