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How fast do you want to lose your hearing? iPods, MP3s, Diskmans and Walkmans Can Cause Permanent Hearing Loss
Get ready to be part of the new wave of Canadians with hearing loss!
Noise-induced hearing loss threatens every Canadian youth (and adult) who listens to music too loudly over too long a time. While noise overexposure is accumulated from many sources - concerts, school dances, video arcades, traffic, snowmobiles and motorcycles, to name a few - the main culprit is something you might just consider one of your best buddies: your personal music player!
Devices that have inadequate volume control functions, and which do not provide adequate warnings about the dangers involved, are like time bombs with slow fuses. The constant onslaught of noise works away at the sensitive hearing system and eventually wears it down to the point that the person has trouble hearing.
The tough news is that this damage is permanent. The good news is that it is almost entirely preventable. Taking care of your hearing now means that you will enjoy music for a lot longer!
The media is filled with stories of the damage caused by portable music players, and issue of concern first identified over 20 years ago when portable cassette and disk players become popular. Since then, numerous studies have shown that the danger is very real and lawsuits in the U.S.A. have brought attention to what is really an old problem. Young people are at especially high risk because they represent the largest client group for these players.
How loud is too loud?
Sound is measured in decibels (dB) and experts advise that prolonged exposure to noise of 85 dB and higher can damage the inner ear's delicate hair cells.
"Most portable music players can produce sounds up to 120 db. That's louder than a lawn mower or a chain saw and equivalent to an ambulance siren." -- The Mayo Clinic
At 85dB, you can listen to music for eight hours with no damage. But for every 3dB increase, cut that time in half. Four hours for 88dB, 2 h ours for 91 dB (subway, lawnmower), half hour 97dB (motorcycle), 3 minutes at 100dB (school dance), and for a concert which can be 110 dB and above... less than a minute!
Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists
Unless you have a sound meter, it is not easy to judge how loud you're listening to your music, but here are some things to be aware of!
- Not every player is the same, so it is not safe to assume that the halfway volume level is safe
- The types of earphones you choose make a BIG difference. Over the ear is best, because earbuds can add 4-5dB to the volume!
- If you find yourself shouting instead of talking when you respond to people next to you - it is too loud.
- Be aware that if you turn up your player in noisy environments, such as on the subway, you are increasing the volume to possibly dangerous levels.
What can you do to protect your Hearing?
- Try turning down the music. 85dB is still a substantial sound level (we talk at 60dB), so try your music a little softer - and a lot safer!
- Enjoy music but keep the sound at a level you can still have a conversation with others.
- Give your ears a break! Cut down on listening time or the amount of time you expose your ears to any prolonged loud noise.
- Wear earplugs at concerts and noisy events - you will hear EVERYTHING, but you will be cutting out those dangerous decibel levels.
- Check instructions on your new music player and don't go over the recommended safety limit.
- Apple has downloadable software available on its website that limits the volume level on iPods.
- Use over-the-ear earphones as opposed to in-the-ear earphones. If you insist on earbuds, turn the music down.
- If you cannot hear or understand the music at half-volume, this could indicate an existing hearing loss. Have your doctor or audiologist check it out and avoid using portable music players as they could further damage your hearing.
- If you think you or your child have hearing loss or experience ringing in the ears, see an audiologist for testing as soon possible.
If You Are Concerned About Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
- Advocate for changes in legislation to prevent hearing loss due to noisy toys and music players.
- Prevention should start early. Elementary schools need to address the issue in the classroom at least once a year. Ask CHHA about a hearing loss prevention program in your community.
- Sound Sense: Save you Hearing for the Music -The Hearing Foundation of Canada
- Hearing Awareness - The Canadian Hard of Hearing Association
- The Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists
- Hearing Damage and Loud Music
- Hearing Loss Prevention: Musicians and Hearing Loss
- Foundation for the Deaf welcomes move by Apple
- Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists
Copyright © 2009 the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA)
Direct commercial exploitation is not permitted. No warranty of accuracy is given concerning the contents of the information contained in this publication. To the extent permitted by law, no liability (including liability to any person by reason of negligence) will be accepted by CHHA its subsidiaries or employees for any direct, or indirect loss or damage caused by omissions from or inaccuracies in this document. CHHA reserves the right to change details in this publication without notice.