BMJ urges parents to protect children's hearing as hundreds of thousands are at risk of hearing damage

Contributed by Sarah Sheehan

16/12/2022 00:00:00 • 2 min read

Tags • Research

There has never been a better time to take preventative measures if you’re concerned about your hearing, according to a recent report by the British Medical Journal, which states that billions of people worldwide are at risk of developing hearing loss due to unsafe listening habits.

The hearing research study - led by Laurena Dillard - a postdoctoral fellow at the Medical University of South Carolina, looked at 33 studies published between 2000 and 2021 to conclude that .67-1.35 teens and young adults are regularly exposed to sound at alarmingly high volumes for durations long enough to cause permanent and irreversible hearing loss.

The worrying trend of increased noise exposure is contributing to worldwide diminished hearing, with 24% of 12 to 34-year-olds being especially at risk due to frequent subjection to sound through headphones, ear pods, ear buds and attendance at loud music venues.  The British Medical Journal study found that if you listen to loud music on your headphones for just 2.15 hours per day, you are exposed to the equivalent of 92 decibels - the equivalent of being exposed to the sound of a hairdryer or a truck for the same time duration.

Hidden Hearing recently carried out an on-street survey where we checked the decibel levels that the Irish public were listening to their audio devices at. The average was a staggering 85 decibels! According to Hidden Hearing’s Senior Audiologist Dolores Madden, “The ear cannot tolerate noise exposure over 85 decibels for very long and over-exposure to loud sounds will eventually damage the hair cells in your inner ear. These hair cells conduct sound and if they become damaged, it is detrimental to your hearing. There is no way to resolve this other than to be fitted with a hearing device, so it’s worth being mindful and protecting your hearing before it’s too late.”

“Damage from unsafe listening can compound over the life course and noise exposure earlier in life may make individuals more vulnerable to age-related hearing loss,” researchers said in their study.

The World Health Organisation states that 60 decibels is the recommended volume for safe listening and recommends limiting exposure to sounds of 80 decibels upwards, as they can cause permanent damage to your hearing.

Hidden Hearing audiologist, Dolores Madden, says, “Unsafe listening is defined as listening to a device at a volume higher than 60 decibels for 60 minutes or more. It’s very simple and effective to apply the 60/60 Rule and to listen at 60 decibels for 60 minutes at a time, to prevent hearing damage. I’d also recommend setting the volume to 55% in the settings on your phone to ensure that you have safe listening measures in place. Early intervention and prevention are the easiest methods to apply to ensure you don’t end up with hearing loss.

To reduce your risk of hearing loss at a loud concert or music venue, experts recommend standing farther away from the source of the noise and taking frequent breaks. There are also special earbuds that you can wear at concerts and loud environments that make things around you quieter without affecting sound quality. It is also worth putting hearing on your health agenda and being conscious of the level of sound and the period you’re listening with your headphones to keep hearing loss at bay.”

See our decibel guide below so that you can keep your sound exposure in check:

rainfall: 50 dB;

noisy restaurant: 70 dB;

loud-ish music on speakers: 80 dB;

electric drill: 95 dB;

football game: 115 dB;

thunder: 120 dB;

shotgun: 140 dB.

Book A Free Hearing Test At Hidden Hearing

Ireland’s leading private provider of hearing care solutions is Hidden Hearing. We have a national network of over 85 clinics, and our expert audiologists are friendly and committed to helping you to find the best hearing solution for you.

If you are concerned about your hearing, book a free hearing test with us and find out how we can help you. We have an excellent range of digital hearing aids available, including invisible hearing aids that are discreet and highly sensitive. Contact Hidden Hearing online today, or pop into your local clinic.

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Written by: Sarah Sheehan, Chief Audiologist, ISHAA Member
Sarah Sheehan is an esteemed member of our HR, L&D and Compliance Department, who joined Hidden Hearing in 2018 as an audiologist. Sarah’s career has seen her work in a wide range of areas within the company and she is committed to providing education about audiology and keeping abreast of current audiology trends.