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More Than A Billion People Are At Risk For Hearing Loss

More Than A Billion People Are At Risk For Hearing Loss

by Chris DavisMarch 9, 2015
Turns out, 'feeling the beat' is making you deaf.

More than a billion young people are at risk for hearing loss from listening to loud music and other recreational noise exposure. Music is becoming the main reason for hearing loss.

The World Health Organization reports that 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are setting themselves up for hearing loss with their unsafe use of personal audio devices, such as iPods and smartphones, as well as exposure to damaging sound levels at nightclubs and other entertainment venues.

Data from middle- and high-income countries analyzed by the WHO indicates that nearly 50% of people aged 12-35 are exposed to damaging sound levels from personal audio devices, and around 40% are exposed to unsafe sound levels at entertainment events.

To put sound levels into perspective, city traffic heard from inside a car is approximately 85 decibels, while 100 dB is typical for sporting events, nightclubs and bars. It’s important to note, however, that every 3 dB increase represents a doubling of sound intensity. So, while 85 dB is likely safe for up to eight hours per day, 100 dB becomes hazardous after just 15 minutes.

When listening to music with ear buds, most experts recommend the 60/60 rule — never turning your volume past 60 percent, and limiting exposure to no more than 60 minutes per day.

Take note, young people: Dr. Etienne Krug, WHO Director for the Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention warns: “Once you lose your hearing, it won’t come back.

Some WHO recommendations for preventing hearing loss include wearing ear protection while at loud events and and using smartphone apps to limit audio output when listening to music.

Girl listening to music with a pair of headphones.

For more data and insight on hearing loss, check out “Make Listening Safe,” the WHO’s recently launched initiative to promote safer listening practices.