His knowledge in communication disorders has helped a wide range of patients, including both adults and children with hearing loss. He provides screenings, hearing tests, aural rehabilitation and has an extensive knowledge of both conventional and digital hearing instruments.
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May is not only the first month of summer but it is also Better Hearing & Speech Month. Hidden Hearing earlier this year commissioned research carried out by Empathy Research on hearing loss in Ireland and some of the results we found were surprising. We have found that hearing loss does not just effect the 50+, now its being seen in younger people also.
Our research found that 1 in 2 young people aged 18-24 are showing signs of noise-induced hearing loss. This is because of the decibel level that these people listen to music on their devices or at gigs. A third (33%) of Irish people who prefer to listen to music on their mobile phone and MP3 player are listening at dangerously high volume levels and for twice as long as is safe, with one in four (26%), experiencing symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss.
Hearing experts recommend that people follow the 60/60 rule when listening to music on personal devices like a mobile or MP3 player; that’s listening at levels up to 60% of maximum volume for a total of 60 minutes a day. However, the Hidden Hearing research reveals that Irish people listen to music on their mobile or MP3 player for almost two hours (113 minutes) a day on average, with a third (33%) listening at dangerous sound levels of over 100 decibels (dB), the equivalent of a jet airplane taking-off or a rock concert.
Other Research Findings
- The majority (71%) of young people aged 18-24 years prefer to listen to music via their mobile phone for 2 hours, 5 minutes a day – twice the recommended limit.
- Almost one in five (17%) deliberately set the volume to the maximum loudness.
- Four in ten (42) have experienced ringing and buzzing in their ears and risk causing permanent damage to their ears. Tinnitus (ringing in ears) usually begins at 127 dB and can be an early indicator of hearing loss.
- Almost one in ten people aged 25-34 years would not be worried if they had permanent ringing or buzzing in their ears: demonstrating a clear lack of awareness of the damage and risks associated with sustained exposure to loud noise.
- Almost half of Irish adults (48%) listen to music on their personal device using in-ear earphones, which can potentially cause more hearing harm than headphones. This climbs to 74% among a younger audience of 18-24 year olds.
Dolores Madden, Audiologist and Marketing Director with Hidden Hearing warns that young people will have to face the music of premature hearing loss if they don’t turn the volume down, “If you suffer ringing in the ears or buzzing after listening to loud music, that tells us that the damage is already done. Our research paints a worrying picture for the long-term hearing health of younger people especially. An EU study claims by 2020 it may be commonplace for up to 10% of 30 year olds to be wearing a hearing aid and our latest research in Ireland certainly supports that trend. The volume limits are there on our phones and MP3 players to protect our hearing, but it’s frightening to see so many Irish people – particularly young people – ignore or disregard them.
“Listening to loud music a lot on your mobile phone can cause hearing damage, especially if in-ear buds are used as these offer less protection than headphones. With buds, it’s not so much the noise, but the sound pressure that can cause the damage. The bud is inserted in the ear, so the pressure goes straight into the inner ear canal and that can be dangerous if listening for long periods at maximum volume, which a worrying number of Irish people are doing. The World Health Organisation estimates that up to one third of hearing loss in the world’s population is preventable, so boosting awareness is hugely important”, Madden adds.
We found that mobile phones are peoples No.1 device for listening to music
More than three times the number of people prefer to use their mobile phone to listen to music to, usurping MP3 players and iPods. Almost half listen to music via their mobile (44%), followed by iPod (13%) and MP3 player (12%).
Other research highlights
- On average Irish people listen to music via a personal device for 1 hour 53 minutes a day, with the average listening session being 1 hour 3 minutes (twice that recommended)
- 41% of people who listen to music on their personal device at maximum sound level, are listening for an hour or more every day, so risk serious hearing damage
- One in four (26%) Irish adults have experienced ringing/buzzing in the ear with one in five (19%) experiencing this after listening to music on their personal device
- This goes up to one in three among those who listen to music at maximum volume
- A third of people (34%) use headphones, with one in four using Bluetooth/wireless speakers (25%)
Hidden Hearing top tips to protect your hearing while listening to personal devices
- If you are listening with headphones to your personal device and someone is talking to you in a normal voice at arm’s length away, you should be able to hear them clearly.
- Set a safe listening limit on your devices. Go to settings to override the 100dB (decibel) volume limit setting.
- Observe the 60/60 rule – listen at 60% of the maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes a day
- Take regular breaks