Blame Technology for Rise in Hearing Loss Among Younger People

Hearing loss is common in Santa Barbara and across California.

There is a common (but false) perception that only older people experience hearing impairment.

The truth is, hearing loss affects people of all ages. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly prevalent among younger folks – thanks in large part to technology.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Affects Everybody

desk covered with devices

It’s natural to lose some hearing ability as we age, but only a third of the population suffering a hearing impairment in Santa Barbara are over the age of 65.

More and more, hearing loss is affecting the younger generation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that noise-induced hearing loss affects 17 percent of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19.

When we are exposed to sounds exceeding 85 decibels for extended periods of time, damage occurs to the hair cells in the inner ear that are responsible for transmitting signals to the brain.

The louder the sound, the less safe exposure time you have; at 85 decibels it will take about eight hours for significant damage to occur, but at 100 decibels, you are only safe for about 15 minutes.

Younger people don’t always understand the link between loud noise and hearing loss.

Most cases of noise-induced hearing loss are the result of persistent exposure to loud music, and a majority of that blame goes toward the popularity of earbuds, smartphones and streaming apps – all of which allow people to listen to music pretty much anywhere they please and for as long as they like.

These devices aren’t the only causes of hearing loss in younger people. Students who take part in band or learn to play musical instruments risk causing damage to their ears, as well – especially if they play noisy instruments such as drums.

And those who enjoy participating in activities like riding dirt bikes, attending concerts or sporting events and even mowing the lawn are at risk of noise-induced hearing loss.

At the risk of dating ourselves, we suggest you take a page out of an old Crosby, Stills & Nash song and teach your children well.

Stress the importance of wearing earplugs whenever they are going to be exposed to potentially damaging sounds.

Have them set the volume to no more than 60 percent of maximum when listening to personal music devices and have them take periodic breaks in order to give their ears a rest.

Hearing loss isn’t only an inconvenience; it can lead to long-term health complications.

Taking proactive steps to ensure your children protect their hearing now will result in a better long-term quality of life.

For more tips on protecting your child’s hearing, speak to your Santa Barbara hearing specialist today.


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