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

Generally, hearing loss is thought of as a problem only effecting older people – in fact, it’s estimated that around 50% of people aged 75 and older suffer from some kind of hearing loss. 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 conducted a study of 479 freshmen from three high schools and discovered that there were indications of hearing loss in 34% of them. The cause? Mobile devices with earbuds or headphones connected are thought to be the most likely culprit. And older people are also susceptible.

What is The Cause of Hearing Loss in People Below The Age of 60?

There’s an easy rule concerning earbud volume for teenagers and everyone else – if other people can hear your music, then it’s too loud. Injury to your hearing can happen when you listen to noises above 85 decibels – which is approximately the volume of a vacuum cleaner – over a long time period. If the volume is cranked all the way up on a typical mobile device it’s volume is around 106 decibels. In this circumstance, damage starts to occur in less than 4 minutes.

While you would think that this stuff would be common sense, in reality kids spend in excess of two hours each day on their devices, often with their earphones or earbuds plugged in. During this time they’re listening to music, watching videos, or playing games. And if current research is to be believed, this time will only increase over the next few years. Studies illustrate that smartphones and other screens activate dopamine production in younger kids’ brains, which is the same response caused by addictive drugs. Kids loss of hearing will continue to multiply because it will be more and more difficult to get them to put their screens down.

How Much Are Young People at Risk of Hearing Loss?

Clearly, loss of hearing offers numerous struggles to anybody, regardless of age. But there are additional problems for young people pertaining to job prospects, after school sports, or even academics. The student is disadvantaged if they have a hard time hearing and comprehending concepts during class due to early hearing loss. And since sports require a lot of listening to teammates and coaches calling plays, sports become a lot harder. Teenagers and young adults who are going into the workforce will have unneeded challenges if their loss of hearing has a negative impact on their self-esteem.

Loss of hearing can also cause persistent social struggles. Kids with damaged hearing have a harder time connecting with peers, which frequently results in emotional and social struggles that require therapy. Mental health problems are ordinary in people of all ages who have hearing loss because they commonly feel separated and have depression and anxiety. Mental health treatment and hearing loss management often go hand in hand, especially in kids and teenagers during developmental years.

How You Can Prevent Hearing Loss?

The first rule to follow is the 60/60 rule – offending devices should be at less than 60% of their max volume for no more than 1 hour each day. If your children listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the sound while sitting near them, you should tell them to 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 produce 6 to 9 extra decibels compared to traditional headphones.

Throughout the day in general, you should do anything you can to limit your exposure to loud sound. You can’t control everything, so try to make the time you’re listening to tunes free of headphones. If you do think you are dealing with loss of hearing, you need to see us right away.

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