Your MP3 player and hearing loss

September 29, 2009 by  
Filed under HEARING

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headsetI remember once seeing this sticker on a loud speaker in a snack bar: “If it’s too loud, then you’re too old.”

Am I too old? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe I can simply discern what is loud from the norm. Many people nowadays can’t tell anymore because their ears may be damaged.  In fact, 90% of men aged 60 or older have some form of hearing problems.

“Hearing loss is so prevalent that it has become the norm”

according to Dr. Roland Eavey who together with his team at Vanderbilt University conducted the 2002 survey That study revealed that adolescents and young people consciously exposed themselves for loud music as a form of entertainment. At that time, the main exposure is from attending concnerts and going to discos or clubs. Nowadays it is the MP3 player.

The results of the 2nd survey conducted in 2007 is out and the prognosis does not look good. Here are some figures to ponder upon:

  • About 2,500 people participated in the survey and of these, almost 50% of these experienced symptoms such as tinnitus after exposure to loud music.
  • 32% of respondents think hearing loss is a big problem (vs. 8% in the 1st survey)
  • 75% of respondents owned an MP3 player.
  • 24% of respondent used their music player for more than 15 hours a week.
  • Almost 50% use 75 to 100% of the volume capacity of their player.
  • 89% turn up their player’s sound if external sounds such as traffic noise compete with the music loudness.

musicWhat about awareness?

Awareness of the risks of loud music has improved since the last survey but is still low.

Interestingly, the survey respondents believe that the most informative source of information about prevention of hearing loss is the media whereas health care professionals are the least likely source of information.

 However, those who are fond of loud music, young or old, would turn down the sound or use ear protection if told by a health care professionals of the risks. In other words, health care providers have a big capacity to alter behaviour that can prevent hearing loss.

According to Eavey

“Since our last study we have learned that enough people still are not yet aware, but that more are becoming aware, especially through the help of the media…We have learned that the audience does use public health behaviours like sunscreen, designated drivers and seatbelts and that the health care community is the least likely source of informing patients about hearing loss, so we have an excellent opportunity to start educating patients.”

He is urging his fellow health care providers to help spread the word and the key messages are:

  • Hearing loss due to loud music is preventable.
  • Hearing loss is usually permanent and irreversible.
  • Even hearing aids might not be able to help.

Considering the potential role of the media in hearing loss prevention, I think it is commendable that is supporting such studies. Now that’s what I call corporate social respnosibility.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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One Response to “Your MP3 player and hearing loss”
  1. Very informative. thanks a bunch.

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