Loud music and noise causes hearing loss over time

A pair of speakers on a table
A pair of speakers on a table (Photo credit: Shakti Rajpurohit)

Recent data from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that billions of people may develop hearing loss due to continuous exposure to high volumes and noise, but this can be prevented by following safe listening tips.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hearing loss can occur when any part of the ear or auditory (hearing) system is not working in the usual way. People may develop hearing loss from extended exposure to high volumes. But there are other causes of the condition such as head trauma, aging, wax build up and diseases like diabetes and hypertension. 

The different degrees of hearing loss ranges are mild, moderate, severe, and profound. But young people are more prone to hearing loss due to loud music and noise.“Over one billion people aged 12 to 35, risking losing their hearing due to prolonged and excessive exposure to loud music and other high volume recreational noise,” says WHO.

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15-year-old Samuel Anderson (not his real name) enjoys listening to loud music. “Mi listen to music every day, mi earphones always in mi ears dem and the only time dem out is if mi a sleep, even when mi a bathe mi phone play music,” says Anderson. But he ignores the alert his phone sends when the volume is too high. “You know mi always press it off and just turn up the volume, I like when di music buck,” he added. Anderson has not thought about the risk of hearing loss over time.

The situation is similar for construction worker, Rohan James (not his real name). “Some of di machines dem weh me work wid loud but mi nah too look on the noise cause mi get used to it now,” says James. 

But studies from WHO shows that “over 1.5 billion people globally live with hearing loss, and according to recent estimates this number could rise to over 2.5 billion by 2030.” 

Hearing loss can also occur from high sound levels at recreational events and venues. The United Nation’s agency estimates that 50 per cent of hearing loss can be prevented through public health measures at these places. Some of the recently created safe listening measures for events and venues by WHO are maximum average sound level of 100 decibels, making personal hearing protection available to audiences including instructions on use and access to quiet zones for people to rest their ears and decrease the risk of hearing damage.

The agency also advises young people to keep the volume down on personal audio devices, use noise cancelling earphones or headphones, wear ear plugs at noisy venues and getting regular hearing check-ups.

“Hearing loss due to loud sounds is permanent, underlining that exposure to loud sounds causes temporary hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing sound interference in the ears), and prolonged or repeated exposure can lead to permanent hearing damage,” says WHO.

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