1BILLION people under 35 are at risk of going deaf from listening to headphones too loud 


Talk about noise cancelling: 1.3 BILLION people under age of 35 are at risk of going deaf from listening to headphones too loud

  • Between quarter and half of young people listen to music too loudly, data shows
  • Over-stimulating tiny ear hairs by listening to loud music causes lasting damage
  • International team of academics reviewed more than 30 studies in 20 countries
  • Estimated between 670million to 1.35billion are at risk of hearing loss as a result

More than 1 billion young people are at risk of hearing loss due to the widespread use of headphones as well as ultra loud live music venues, scientists warn.

An international team of academics made the estimate after reviewing more than 30 studies in 20 countries involving nearly 20,000 people aged 12 to 34.

They concluded that between a quarter and half of people regularly listen to devices and go to concerts where music is played at unsafe levels.

Volume under 80 decibels is considered safe for adults while 75 decibels has been deemed safe for children. 

Hearing experts say that volume over 85 decibels is likely to cause hearing damage. Yet up to half of people were regularly listening to volume as high as 1112 decibels. 

Based on the analysis, the researchers estimate that the global number of teens and young adults who could potentially be at risk of hearing loss as a result ranges from 670million to 1.35billion. 

The report concluded: ‘There is an urgent need for governments, industry, and civil society to prioritize global hearing loss prevention by promoting safe listening practices.’

Researchers supported by the World Health Organization estimated that the number of people aged 12-34 who will experience hearing loss due to exposure to dangerously high volume of sound could reach as high as 1.35 billion. They blame the widespread use of personal devices like headphones as well as exceedingly loud live music venues. 

Listen up! How loud noise can cause hearing loss

Overexposure to volumes exceeding 85 decibels is considered dangerous by hearing experts.

Children should not listen to sound exceeding 75 decibels. 

Hearing loss occurs when any part of the ear or the nerves that carry information on sounds to the brain do not work in the usual way. 

Loud noise can damage cells and membranes in the cochlea, the spiral-shaped bone in the inner ear that plays a key role in the sense of hearing and auditory processing.

Listening to loud noise for a long time can overwork hair cells in the ear, which can cause these cells to die. 

Damage due to over exposure is usually permanent.  

Over-stimulating tiny hairs in the ears by listening to loud music can cause permanent damage. 

In each ear, the inner ear structure called the cochlea – which receives sound in the form of vibrations – has 15,000 hairs.

These tiny, sensory hair cells are crucial to helping us detect sound waves – but are very fragile.

The hair cells do not regenerate, so damage to them is permanent — a common cause among people with some types of hearing loss.

Researchers from Sweden, Switzerland, Mexico, and South Carolina created the global estimate of young people who will suffer hearing loss by combing through 33 studies, around half of which looked at people’s use of personal listening devices, while the rest focused on loud entertainment venues.

Twenty-four per cent of people ages 12 to 34 were exposed to dangerously high volumes from using headphones and other personal listening devices, while 48 per cent of them are vulnerable to damage from live music venues, the researchers found.

As there are roughly 2.8 billion people aged 12 to 34 worldwide, the team estimated that up to 1.35 billion people in that age group are at risk of hearing loss.

Their findings were published in the journal BMJ Global Health.

The World Health Organization, which supported the research, estimates that over 430 million people worldwide currently have disabling hearing loss.

The global public health body has sounded the alarm about hearing loss linked to exposure to high levels of sound. 

In 2019, it issued safe noise guidelines for European countries, citing excess noise as ‘an important public health issue.’

In 2015, WHO launched the ‘Make Listening Safe’ campaign meant to raise awareness of noise-induced hearing loss and advocate for interventions that protect people from excess noise.

‘There is an urgent need for governments, industry and civil society to prioritise global hearing loss prevention by promoting safe listening practices,’ the new report said.

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