When most of us think about hearing loss, we tend to think of it as being an issue that, for the most part, only affects older people. Although it is true that around half of all people who experience hearing loss are aged 75 or older, it is also the case that there has been an increase in the number of younger people who are experiencing symptoms of hearing loss, many even losing some or all of their hearing. This is shocking not only because of their age but also because, in many cases, it is completely unavoidable!

One study of almost 500 freshmen from three high schools, found that around 34% of participants were experiencing at least one sign of hearing loss. What is causing these symptoms? The researchers believe that the widespread use of earbuds and headphones was to blame, and it is not only children of school age who are at risk from this kind of avoidable hearing loss.

Too high a costs

The fact of the matter is that anyone who uses headphones or earbuds regularly could potentially be putting their hearing health at risk if they consistently listen to music and other media at too high a level.

What constitutes too high a level? As a rule of thumb, if your music can be heard by the people around you, despite you using headphones or earbuds, it is almost certainly too loud and you will be at greater risk of experiencing hearing loss.

Sounds that reach about approximately 85dBs have the potential to damage your hearing and cause hearing loss – this is the same volume as a moderately loud conversation or the average vacuum cleaner. The average smartphone can reach a max level of 106dBs, which is enough to damage hearing in less than five minutes, which means even cranking the sound up to listen to your favorite song could put you at risk of hearing loss, as any audiologist will tell you.

Two hours

This is particularly serious when you consider the fact that children and teenagers spend, on average two hours connected to devices each day, more often than not, using earbuds to listen to whatever is playing, whether it be music, YouTube or video games, with many experts predicting that this time will drastically increase over the coming years, which means the issue of hearing loss is only likely to get worse in younger people as time goes on.

Is the danger significant for young people?

If you think this is all exaggeration, you need to think again. Although we do not like to think of young people experiencing hearing loss, the threat of it happening, and continuing to happen in ever-increasing numbers, is very real.

As well as the increasing use of earbuds and headphones linked to devices, many children are exposed to noisy after-school sports, music concerts, and even high levels of traffic, all of which can pose a significant risk. So, it really cannot be understood just how much of a danger young people are in if steps are not taken to protect their hearing health right now.

What are the consequences of hearing loss in young people?

As any audiologist will tell you, hearing loss can be life-changing for the people who experience it at any age. People who live with hearing loss often find it more difficult to communicate which means young people may find socializing, studying, and finding jobs more difficult than it might otherwise be. Not only that, but hearing loss can be very frustrating, which can lead to behavioral problems and trouble at school if left untreated.

How can young people avoid hearing loss?

Ideally, the use of headphones or earbuds should be limited to 60 minutes per day and the volume should not be turned up higher than around 68% of the max volume. Over-the-head headphones have also been shown to be slightly less harmful than in-ear options, so switching to them may help to reduce the risk of hearing loss by as much as 10%, although you will still need to be strict on how high the volume is turned up.

When attending other loud events, such as concerts or sporting venues, it is a good idea to wear earplugs or over-the-ear defenders to bring the sound down to safer levels.

Of course, having regular audiologist appointments to say issues can be spotted and treated quickly will also be very useful.

Want to know more about young people and hearing loss? Need to see a qualified audiologist about your hearing? Call Your Hearing Connection at 626-538-9920. Get expert help today!