Hearing Services of Nashville

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

Hearing loss is normally thought of as an older person’s issue – in fact, it’s estimated that about 50% of people who have hearing loss are 75 or older. And despite the fact that it’s frequently entirely avoidable, a new study reveals a shocking number of young people are losing their hearing.

A study of 479 freshmen from three high schools carried out by The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing found that 34% of those freshmen exhibited signs of hearing loss. Why is this happening? Mobile devices with headphones or earbuds connected are believed to be the most likely culprit. And older individuals are also at risk.

In People Who Are Under 60, What Causes Loss of Hearing?

There’s a simple rule regarding earbud volume for teenagers and all other people – if other people can hear your music, then it’s too loud. Your hearing can be injured when you listen to sounds above 85 decibels – about the volume of a vacuum cleaner – for an extended period of time. A normal mobile device with the volume cranked up to the max registers at approximately 106 decibels. In this situation, injury starts to develop in less than 4 minutes.

Although this sounds like common sense stuff, the truth is kids spend as much as two hours every day using their devices, commonly with their earphones or earbuds connected. During this time they’re watching videos, listening to music, or playing games. And if current research is to be believed, this time will only get longer over the next few years. Studies reveal that dopamine is stimulated by smartphones and other devices with screens, in younger kids’ brains, which is the same reaction caused by addictive drugs. 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 offers several difficulties to anyone, regardless of age. Younger people, though, have to deal with additional issues pertaining to academics, after school sports, and even job prospects. The student is put at a disadvantage if they have a difficult time hearing and understanding concepts in class because of early hearing loss. And since sports involve a lot of listening to teammates and coaches calling plays, sports become much more challenging. Teenagers and young adults who are going into the workforce will have unnecessary hurdles if their hearing loss has a negative effect on their self-esteem.

Hearing loss can also result in persistent social issues. Kids whose hearing is impaired have a more difficult time connecting with friends, which typically results in emotional and social issues that require therapy. Mental health troubles are typical in people of all ages who suffer from hearing loss because they typically feel isolated and have anxiety and depression. Managing hearing loss often must go hand-in-hand with mental health therapy, especially during the important developmental phases experienced by teenagers and kids.

Avoiding Hearing Loss

The first rule to follow is the 60/60 rule – offending devices should be at no more than 60% of their max volume for no more than 1 hour a day. If you’re able to hear your kids music, even if they are at 60%, you should tell them to turn the volume down.

You might also want to say goodbye to 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 in comparison to traditional headphones.

Generally speaking, though, do whatever you can to minimize your exposure to loud noises throughout the day. You can’t control everything, so try and make the time you’re listening to music headphone-free. If you do believe you’re suffering from loss of hearing, you should see us right away.

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