Doctors are reporting more and more cases of young children suffering hearing problems. Many of these patients can expect to have the hearing of a 60 year old by the age of 30. But this epidemic is not down to diseases or a virus but the rising exposure to high volumes of noise.
The problem is occurring because many young children listen to their music or play video games with the volume at the maximum level in their earphones. This kind of concentrated noise damages the ears, often beyond repair. Many parents do not realise that by taking their children to sporting or music events they are exposing them to volumes only suitable for more mature ears. Professor of preventive medicine at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Dr Martin, said, “If a sound reaches 85 decibels and over an extended period, it can permanently damage hearing. The safe level for an iPod is 80 per cent on the volume slider. If you listen to music at that level, you can safely listen for 90 minutes a day.”
If you consider that a normal conversation would occur at 60 decibels of sound, a level that is completely harmless to the ears, when exposed to a loud concert or busy motorway, often at around 120dB, this can be very irritating. Prolonged exposure to these levels can cause serious damage. Exposure to noises above 150dB such as a jet engine or pneumatic drill can cause instant irreparable damage. Even noises at a constant low level can cause high blood pressure, stress, anxiety and insomnia.
By standing at arms length from someone with your music on in your earphones, you should still be able to hear them talk, if you can’t, the volume is too loud. Extremely loud noise might not only cause physical damage to your ears, but cause an affliction called Tinnitus. Tinnitus is a terrible condition that causes a permanent loud ringing noise in the ear and can often take over a person’s life. Although some cases are treatable, it usually remains present and victims are forced to suffer an unbearable ringing noise in their ear for the rest of their life.
12% of children aged 12 to 19 in America and Europe have some degree of hearing loss that is caused entirely by exposure to loud noise. Although there are laws regarding noise levels in a workplace, there are no laws about personal exposure.