Hearing loss attributed to loud habits

By Natalie Crawford
September 1, 2010

Teens and young adults love listening to music at a loud volume but little do they know they’re doing severe damage to their hearing. iPods can do more harm than good. Loss of hearing has increased drastically within the years due to the pounding music coming from ear buds that are placed directly in your ear canal. However, iPods may not be the only factor causing hearing loss in teens.


According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, “Audiology experts agree that hearing loss is increasing in the United States. According to widely cited figures from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the number of Americans ages 3 and older with some form of auditory disorder has more than doubled since 1971, from 13.2 million to about 30 million today. Of those, one-third are said to be people with noise-induced hearing loss.”

Audiologists have researched that abusing the use of iPods and stereo systems particularly in young people can lead to serious loss of hearing.

“Hearing damage occurs when loud sound destroys tiny hair cells in the inner ear. These cells are responsible for converting sound waves into electrical impulses, which are then sent to the brain. Once 25 to 30 percent of these cells disappear, you begin to experience hearing loss,” Lansbury-Martin, ASHA’s director of research and science, said.

Research has shown that a third of the population by the age of 65 will deal with some sort of hearing problems. Even though most hearing problems are blamed on iPods, there are other environmental noises that can contribute to this problem.

“Traffic, construction, jets, nightclubs, leaf blowers and surround sound home theater systems,” Pam Mason, ASHA’s director of audiology, said.

According to Brian J. Fligor, director of diagnostic audiology at the Children’s Hospital in Boston, depending on the type of earphones, listeners could get a sound dose as high as 120 decibels. This is comparable to the sound level at a loud rock concert or sandblasting; it could lead to risk of hearing damage after 7.5 minutes of exposure.

Decibels are the unit of power used to express the intensity of a sound wave.

“Music that has bass and pounding have a different effect. The decibels are different from that of a soft piano,” Heather Fullerton, Cabrini College communication center coordinator, said.

When students at Cabrini College were asked where and how loudly they listen to their iPod, most of them said when they are working out at the gym and loud enough that it drowns out noises that they do not want to hear.

“I listen to my iPod really loudly, pretty much the whole way. I do not think that it is affecting my hearing right now but I think later on in life it will affect it,” Monica Souders, senior biology major, said.

Justin Sillner/Features Editor

The problem of hearing loss in teens leads back to the earphones and the type of earphones. Earphones are being placed closer and closer in the ear and are directly being pumped right into the ear canal.

“It’s really increasing pressure on the ear,” Christine Albertus, audiologist with the Marshfield Clinic in Masrshville, Wis., said.

Even after teens are continuously listening over time, it will still cause severe problems.

“Fast forward and they may be hearing aid candidates by the time they’re in their early 40s,” Albertus said.

One out of every eight teens already have hearing problems caused by loud noises. Audiologists have recommended to children to use the older style headphones that rest right over the ear opening. The earphones that are causing all these problems are the ear buds.

“Ear buds are placed directly inside of the ear and can boost the sound up to six to nine decibels. This is enough to cause loss of hearing after only an hour and 15 minutes,” Elizabeth Quinn, About.com, said.

“This is definitely a cause as to why young adults are losing their hearing because of the types of head phones,” Arielle Friscia, senior communication major and operations manager at WYBF, said.

While blasting your music over time, you will have to listen to things around you at a louder volume than normal. Your ears will become accustom to hearing noises around you louder than they did before, resulting in loss of hearing. This will lead to hearing aids at a much younger age than they have ever been relied on before.

“It is true because it makes sense. You get used to listening to it loudly that you need to have other things around you at a higher volume,” Lauren Chieffo, senior marketing and international business major, said.

“Is this just a case of advocacy groups seizing upon a teachable moment to fly their banners or is there really a chance that being able to hold your entire music library in your palm can come at the cost of your hearing? Time for a reality check,” Gregory Matt, Washington Post staff writer, said.

Bottom: Sophomore Michael Gallagher, like many others, listens to his iPod while lifting weights --Natalie Crawford/Staff Writer

Natalie Crawford

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