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Young music lovers face high risk of hearing loss

To the dislike of many audiophiles, about 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults face a high risk of permanent hearing loss, according to WHO (World Health Organization).

Reasons for the warning include personal audio players, concerts, and bars where the music plays “too much, too loudly.”

While it is difficult to control what happens at a concert or bar, places where people usually go to listen to loud music, a much different situation is with smartphones and audio players. In wealthy countries, half of the people aged 12-35 expose themselves to unsafe levels of sound when they use such devices.

WHO estimates about 43 million people already have some form of hearing loss, and the rate is increasing rapidly. To reverse the trend, WHO recommends “while it is important to keep the volume down, limiting the use of personal audio devices to less than one hour a day would do much to reduce noise exposure.”

Admitting such a recommendation may not come easy, Dr. Etienne Krug, director for injury prevention at WHO, said: “That’s a rough recommendation, it is not by the minute, to give an idea to those spending 10 hours a day listening to an mp3-player. But even an hour can be too much if the volume is too loud.”

Following is WHO’s set of listening time guidelines at certain decibel levels:

  • 85 dB – the level of noise inside a car – eight hours
  • 90 dB – lawn mower – two hours 30 minutes
  • 95 dB – an average motorcycle – 47 minutes
  • 100 dB – car horn or underground train – 15 minutes
  • 105 dB – mp3 player at maximum volume – four minutes
  • 115 dB – loud rock concert – 28 seconds
  • 120 dB – vuvuzela or sirens – nine seconds

A good rule of thumb is to keep the volume at 60% of max, and use noise canceling headphones to mute external noises on trips while keeping the music level down. This translates into investing in quality headphone and ear buds. A noise canceling headphones is best when you are trying to use music to push the sound of the airplane away from your mind.

Because young people reach epidemic proportions for hearing loss, it is important to keep the levels low for a healthier future.

Young music lovers face high risk of hearing loss

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