In the 1980s, audiologists began cautioning lovers of loud music about hearing loss that could potentially result from use of their Walkman or portable compact disc (CD) players. More than thirty years later, the integration of portable digital devices that play music are more abundant than almost every other electronic device in the world, and all of them have an earphone jack. Scientists from the University of Leicester have shown for the first time how noises louder than 110 decibels (dB) cause cell damage which ultimately leads to hearing loss.
Noise-induced hearing loss affects millions and it can be caused by exposure to loud noise over long periods of time, or by loud, short bursts of sound such as gunshots or fireworks.
Although people seem to be more aware of the impact of noise on their hearing, it’s not clear whether they’re changing their behavior, says Nancy Nadler, director of the Noise Center of the League for the Hard of Hearing in New York City.
“We need to help people understand how important their hearing is to them before it’s too late. Because once you suffer from a noise-induced hearing loss, there’s very little you can do. You cannot get your hearing back,” at least not under normal circumstances Nadler stresses.
The researchers said that earphones or headphones on personal music players can reach noise levels similar to those of jet engines, which can reach 140dB at 100 feet distance.
The previous study published in the International Journal of Audiology, demonstrated that teens have harmful music-listening habits when it comes to iPods and other MP3 devices. “In 10 or 20 years it will be too late to realize that an entire generation of young people is suffering from hearing problems much earlier than expected from natural aging,” says Prof. Muchnik of TAU’s Department of Communication Disorders.
|Telephone dial tone||80dB|
|City Traffic (inside car)||85dB|
|Subway train at 200 feet||95dB|
|Hearing Loss at Sustained Levels|
|Lawn Mower at 3 feet||107dB|
|Short-Term Exposure Can Cause Permanent Damage|
|Jet engine at 100 feet||140dB|
|12 Gauge Shotgun Blast||165dB|
|Death of hearing tissue||180dB|
Noises louder than 110 decibels are known to cause hearing problems such as temporary deafness and tinnitus (ringing in the ears), but the University of Leicester study is the first time the underlying cell damage has been observed.