the roar | health
friday, may 13, 2011
and rec | 29
Increased headphone volume causes hearing loss “The average level that someone listens to their iPod is around 87-91 decibels, which is loud,” Dr. Herring said. entertainment editor “Anyone that works in an environment that has a loudness With bass-rattling sound systems and small headphones of 85 decibels or higher is required to wear ear protection, wedged in teen ears, rhythmic thuds vibrate the pavement so if you listen to your iPod louder than that, then it’s louder and the eardrums of students as they crank up the volume than what Occupational Health and Safety Administration with their advanced stereo equipment, iPods or mp3 play- (OSHA) recommends you to wear protection for.” ers, blaring the latest hit at maximum volume. Exposure to loud noises can cause harmful short-term Having a custom sound system is growing in popular- or long-term effects, depending on the case. ity as many teens begin to drive their own vehicles and take “Warning signs of damaged hearing include temporary the responsibility of managing the volume of their music. loss of hearing immediately following listening to the per“I really like having a sound system that portrays my sonal media player, ringing in the ear, talking loudly immemusic in the best way possible,” junior Will Davis said, “but diately after using the device and difficulty communicating most of all I enjoy being able to literally ‘feel’ what I’m especially in noisy environments,” Herring said. “If you lislistening to. ten to loud music excessively as a teen, you are more likely Music is proven to relax, energize and comfort, but to notice hearing loss in your forties rather than having it constant exposure to listening to loud music later in your sixties or seventies, and hearing aids on a regular basis can lead to detrimencan be as expensive as $6,000.” tal side effects that hurt more than There are, however, several ways to help. prevent harmful side effects of hear“If a person responsibly ing loss and listen to music in a listens to their personal healthy manner. media players, they “iTunes allows users to are simply causing set a volume limit on the the ears to function iPod itself so that it cannot naturally and are exceed a preset level,” stimulating the Herring said. “Another hair cells [that way to avoid hearing allow the ear to damage is to limit the hear effectively] length of time the dein a safe manvice is used. There is ner,” Audioloalso a setting to make gist Dr. Robert sure all of the songs Herring said. on your device play “If, however, the at the same volume music is too inbecause some songs tense or loud and are recorded at different is listened to for levels.” long periods of time Simple tests can dethe hair cells can be termine if an individual is traumatized and actulistening to their music at a ally be physically damsafe volume. aged or fail, due to internal “If you take your headphone damage.” and hold it three feet away from you Depending on where the and you can still hear it, turn it down,” sound is coming from determines how PHOT Herring said, “If someone else can hear your T O BY LAURA EVERET it affects the inner ear. music, that is also a clear indication the music “The difference between hearing is too loud.” music from speakers and headphones is the range and how Over the past couple of years, the occurrence of hearclose it is to the listener’s actual eardrum,” Herring said. ing loss in teenagers has risen by nearly one-third compared Whether it is large headphones or small ear buds that to study that took place in te 1980’s and early 1990’s acgo directly in the ear canal, the effect is virtually the same. cording to the Journal of American Medical Association “One isn’t much better than the other because they (JAMA). both are close to the ear,” Herring said. “What matters is the “I want to assure the teens that they are not the first length of time at which you listen to the music. The longer generation dealing with [hearing loss],” Herring said. you listen to loud music, the more hazardous it is to the ear.” “They are just experiencing it in different forms like iPods Volume is measured in decibels that determine the in- and mp3 players, whereas older generations were exposed tensity of the sound. to loud concerts and stereos.”
BY KATE WILLIAMS
NOISE LEVELS Dangerous 130 - 140 dB
Avoid and use hearing protection.
Examples: ﬁreworks, gun shots, custom car stereos, jackhammers, ambulances
Uncomfortable Dangerous after 30 seconds exposure.
Example: jet planes during take oﬀ
Very Loud 90 - 110 dB
Examples: concerts, car horns, sporting events, snowmobiles, MP3 players at full volume, lawnmowers, power tools, blenders, hair dryers
Examples: alarm clocks, traﬃc, vacuums
70 - 80 dB
Moderate 50 - 60 dB
Examples: normal conversation, dishwashers, moderate rainfall
Soft 30 - 40 dB
Examples: quiet library, whispers
Faint 20 dB
Example: leaves rustling Source: www.HowsYourHearing.org American Academy of Audiology
The last issue of the Roar for the 2010-2011 school year, including senior pages.