More young people losing hearing through loud music
Audiologists are appealing to people to be more aware of the risks of listening to loud music continuously as part of the National Foundation for the Deaf's Hearing week campaign.
Audiology South senior audiologist Simon Melville said clinicians were seeing more young people with hearing loss caused by loud music.
With teenagers and young adults being exposed to loud noises and music more directly through headphones, Melville was worried about the effect on younger children.
"They [teenagers] are role models for younger kids so we're worried about young kids seeing teenagers walking around with headphones in their ears.
"It can create dangerous behaviours for younger kids," he said.
Hours of unsupervised time on electronic devices could mean children are exceeding safe levels of sound exposure, Melville said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that the safe volume level of any sound is below 85 decibels for up to eight hours per day.
Data from studies analysed by WHO of middle and high income countries indicate the nearly 50 per cent of people aged 12 to 35 are exposed to unsafe levels of sound from the use of personal audio devices.
"Each time people are exposed to loud noises, their temporary threshold for sound shifts.
"When taking headphones out, our ears can be less sensitive to sound and can feel full after loud noise. It can take a few minutes or even hours to get back to the equilibrium."
Long-term exposure to loud noises can mean a permanent shift in sound threshold.
Part of the problem stemmed from sound devices being unregulated, making it difficult to advise on the appropriate volume level, Melville said.
"The rule of thumb is that six to seven on the volume dial is enough, or two thirds along the volume level on a generic device."
Electronic devices were not the only danger, and people should be aware of the level of sound in public places such as nightclubs or construction noise, he said.
The duration of the noise at a loud level also had a big role to play in the likelihood of hearing damage, Melville said
"Having music at a moderate or lower level won't hurt, you have to watch the number of hours you are exposed to it.
"If you want it louder then that's acceptable if you listen for a shorter time."
- Caitlin Salter, The Southland Times
24 March 2015