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

Normally, loss of hearing is considered to be an issue only impacting older people – as a matter of fact, it’s estimated that about 50% of individuals aged 75 and older struggle with some form of hearing loss. And even though it’s frequently completely preventable, a new study shows an alarming number of younger people are losing their hearing.

The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing recently carried out research on 479 freshmen spanning three high schools and discovered that 34% of those freshmen showed signs of hearing loss. The cause? Mobile devices with earbuds or headphones connected are suspected to be the culprit. And older people are also at risk.

In Individuals Who Are Under The Age of 60, What Causes Hearing Loss?

There’s an easy rule regarding earbud volume for teenagers and all other people – if others can hear your music, then the volume is too high. Damage to your hearing can occur when you listen to sounds higher than 85 decibels – about the volume of a vacuum cleaner – over a long period of time. If the volume is cranked all the way up on a standard mobile device it’s volume is about 106 decibels. Your hearing is injured in less than 4 minutes in these circumstances.

Although this sounds like common sense stuff, the reality is kids spend as much as two hours every day using their devices, and typically they have their earbuds plugged in. They’re listening to music, playing games, or watching videos during this time. And this time is increasing each year according to current research. Studies illustrate that smartphones and other screens trigger dopamine production in younger kids’ brains, which is the same reaction triggered by addictive drugs. Kids hearing loss will continue to multiply because it will be increasingly difficult to get them to put away their screens.

How Much Are Young Kids in Danger of Hearing Loss?

Clearly, hearing loss offers several struggles to anybody, regardless of age. But there are additional issues for young people concerning after school sports, job prospects, or even academics. Hearing loss at a young age causes problems with paying attention and understanding concepts during class, which puts the student at a disadvantage. And since sports involve a lot of listening to teammates and coaches calling plays, sports become far harder. Teenagers and younger adults who are going into the workforce will have unnecessary hurdles if their loss of hearing has a detrimental impact on their self-esteem.

Hearing loss can also lead to persistent social problems. Children with compromised hearing have a more difficult time connecting with peers, which often results in social and emotional issues that require therapy. People who suffer from loss of hearing can feel separated and have depression and anxiety inevitably leading to mental health issues. Mental health treatment and hearing loss management often go hand in hand, especially in teenagers and kids during developmental years.

Preventing Hearing Loss

The first rule to follow is the 60/60 rule – devices and earbuds should only be used for 60 minutes per day at a maximum volume of 69%. If you’re able to hear your kids music, even if they are at 60%, you need to tell them to turn the volume down.

You might also want to say goodbye to the earbuds and choose the older style over-the-ear headphones. Earbuds, which are put directly in the ear, can actually generate 6 to 9 extra decibels in comparison to traditional headphones.

Generally speaking, though, do what you can to reduce your exposure to loud sounds throughout the day. You can’t control everything, so try and make the time you’re listening to music free of headphones. And, you should see us as soon as possible if you suspect you’re already suffering from hearing loss.