- Can you hear me now? Not if you've pumped up the volume on your MP3. In noisy places, everyone is turning up the tunes, and they could be drowning out their own hearing. A new study tells how loud is too loud.
Audiologists Brian Fligor, Sc.D., and Terri Ives have identified safe volume levels for you to use in noisy places. Dr. Fligor, an audiologist and Director of Diagnostic Audiology at Children's Hospital Boston says, "Your typical listener is not at risk if they are listening in a quiet situation, but if they are in a noisier situation, such as commuting, they very easily are going to be at risk." Their study concludes that 80 percent of people listen at dangerous levels when background noise comes into play.
As sound travels through the ear canal, it ends up in the inner ear, or cochlea. When it's too loud, tiny hair cells, which send sound information to the brain, are damaged or destroyed. "They're not meant to be hit with noise for long periods of time," Dr. Fligor says. Over time, this can lead to permanent damage of the hair cells and your hearing.
The study concludes the average person listens to music at the same noise level as we hear a gas lawnmower. So what can you do? Dr. Fligor says, "Something that people can do is set their music to a comfortable level when they are in a quiet situation." Dr. Fligor recommends leaving it at that safe level, 75 decibels or below, and investing in earphones that block out background noise.
During the study, only twenty percent of patients who used "in-the-ear" earphones, designed to block out background noise, exceeded sound levels considered to be risky, compared to 80 percent who listen dangerously with other types of earphones. Proof that your choice of earphone combined with smart volume control settings can help save your hearing. Turning down the music will ensure you will be able to hear music in the future.
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