According to a study published last week, nearly a quarter of young adults listen to music at levels high enough to put them at risk of becoming deaf.
“Our study shows that unsafe listening practices are common among teenagers, and that it may put more than a billion young people at risk of developing permanent hearing loss,” said Lauren Dillard, a postdoctoral researcher at Southern Medical University. Carolina.
“Noise-induced hearing loss is irreversible and we must implement strategies to prevent it,” he adds.
1 billion young people at risk of hearing loss
published work, BMJ Global Healthincludes a systematic review and a meta-analysis. The authors evaluated 33 studies of noise exposure that included more than 19,000 people aged 19 to 34 years.
“We define unsafe listening in terms of sound intensity and duration of exposure to noise. Any device inserted into headphones that exceeds the allowable limits for safe listening can pose a risk to individuals,” Dillard says.
Adapting the data to the world’s population, the study estimates that more than a billion people worldwide are at risk of developing hearing problems due to their listening habits.
There is a risk of hearing loss at any age.
Although the study focused on the risks for younger people, research shows that people of all age groups are at risk of hearing damage from their listening habits.
The risk of hearing loss depends on the volume, duration and frequency of exposure to noise. People often listen to sounds higher than 105 decibels, and average sound levels in entertainment venues range from 104 to 122 decibels. According to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, exposure to noise for even 10-15 minutes per week at these volume levels exceeds safe listening levels.
“It’s important to prioritize hearing loss prevention at any age, but it’s especially important to reduce hearing loss early in life so it doesn’t progress and get worse over time,” Dillard says.
Are modern devices the culprit?
Since the 1950s people have been concerned about the effects of loud music, so what has changed now? Are instruments and concerts noisier than before?
According to Dillard, the volume of the music has not increased that much, but rather the availability of audio devices and the time spent listening to them.
“Smartphones are now very common around the world, which means more people may be exposed to loud music,” he said.
Linda Ballam-Davies, spokesperson for Hearing Australia, the country’s largest government-funded hearing services provider, highlighted how changes in technology and work-life balance are affecting listening habits.
“Over the last decade, with the convenience of Bluetooth connectivity, audio devices have become more commonplace in society. The increase in the number of people working from home has also potentially contributed to increased headphone usage rates,” he told DW.
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