Generation Deaf are the cohort of people born after the Millennial (between 1990 to the early 2000s). Ok, so they are actually called Generation Z, but in the near future this will change to Generation Deaf. These are the teens and young adults you see out and about with MP3 players so loud you can actually hear the music they are playing.
In 2015 the World Health Organization warned that 1.1 billion young people are at risk of hearing loss because of personal audio devices, such as smart phones, and damaging levels of sound at entertainment venues like electronic dance music festivals, where noise levels can top 120 decibels for hours. Using ear buds places an even higher risk as the source of sound in your ear canal can increase a sound’s volume by 6 to 9 decibels. It is believed that at full volume, MP3 players can produce as much noise as a live rock concert. Studies have shown that hearing loss can occur is as little as 8 minutes at high volumes.
According to the National Institutes of Health, repeated exposure to sound over 85 decibels can cause hearing loss.
Warning Signs to Be Aware Of
The following warning signs could suggest that you have been exposed to hazardous noise:
- You hear ringing or buzzing (tinnitus) in your ears after exposure to noise.
- You notice that you can hear people talking, but you have difficulty understanding them, after exposure to noise.
- You experience “fullness” in your ears after leaving a noisy area.
Permanent damage can happen in minutes, experts say, and when the damage is done, it’s irreversible.
Strategies to Protect Young Ears
- Follow the 60/60 rule when wearing ear buds. Keep your volume below 60%, and limit your listening to under 60 minutes per day.
- Buy the newer ear buds that offer a tighter fit to block out more background noise, allowing you to listen at a lower volume.
- Invest in “custom” ear buds made according to an impression taken of your ear canal. These block out the most noise, letting you listen at very low levels. They also provide the best sound quality.
- Educate children and teenagers as most have no idea that hearing doesn’t come back once it’s gone.