HEARING TIPS

Young woman not protecting her hearing in a loud subway.

An estimated 50% of people 75 or over have some level of hearing loss and that’s why most people think of it as an issue for older people. But research demonstrates that younger people are at risk for hearing loss – and, alarmingly, they are losing their hearing in spite of the fact that it’s completely avoidable.

In fact, 34% of the 479 freshmen who were studied across 4 high schools demonstrated symptoms of hearing loss. The cause? Scientists suspect that earbuds and headphones linked to mobile devices are contributing to the issue. And younger people aren’t the only ones at risk.

What causes hearing loss in people under 60?

There’s a basic rule relating to earbud volume for teenagers and everybody else – if somebody else can hear your music, then the volume is too high. If you listen to sounds louder than 85dB (about the volume of a vacuum cleaner) for extended periods of time, your hearing can be damaged. A typical mobile device with the volume turned all the way up is about 106 decibels. In this scenario, damage starts to happen in under 4 minutes.

While this sounds like common sense stuff, the reality is that kids spend well over two hours every day on their devices, frequently with their earphones or earbuds plugged in. They’re playing games, watching footage, or listening to music during this time. And if current research is to be accepted, this time will only increase over the next few years. Research shows 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.

Young people are in danger of hearing loss

Obviously, hearing loss creates numerous difficulties for anybody, regardless of age. Younger individuals, however, face additional problems regarding academics, after-school sports, and even job possibilities. Hearing loss at a young age leads to problems with paying attention and comprehending concepts during class, which puts the student at a disadvantage. Sports become particularly hard if you can’t hear coaches and teammates calling plays and giving instructions. Early hearing loss can have a detrimental effect on confidence as well, which puts unnecessary obstacles in the way of teenagers and young adults who are entering the workforce.

Hearing loss can also lead to social problems. Kids with damaged hearing have a harder time connecting with peers, which frequently causes social and emotional problems that require therapy. Mental health issues are prevalent in people of all ages who have hearing loss because they often feel isolated and experience depression and anxiety. Treating hearing loss often must go hand-in-hand with mental health treatment, especially during the crucial developmental stages experienced by kids and teenagers.

Avoiding hearing loss when you’re young

Using earbuds or headphones for no more than 60 minutes per 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 switch back to over-the-ear style headphones and stop using earbuds. Earbuds put directly inside of the ear can actually generate 6 to 9 extra decibels compared to traditional headphones.

Whatever you can do to minimize your child’s exposure to loud sounds throughout the day will help. You can’t control everything they do during school or on the bus, so try to make the time they’re at home headphone-free. And if you do believe your child is dealing with hearing loss, you should have them examined right away.

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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.
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