Global health experts have gathered their forces to instate a warning especially for teenagers: the abuse of using their headphones when listening to music may lead to deafness if the person dedicates more than one hour a day to this activity.
The World Health Organization has investigated the cases of deafness in young people. The results show that the number is above all expectations: a billion people aged 12 to 35 are in danger of losing their hearing. Most of half of those affected listen to music that has unsafe volume levels.
Furthermore, young people and teenagers are also exposed to this kind of dangers when going to concerts and staying upfront, near the stage; when going to clubs and bars and also when taking part at sporting events where people shout loudly and the results are being announced at very high decibels; sirens and vuvuzelas are not a great help either. In all of these places frequented by teenagers, the number of decibels is between 80 and 100. Researchers draw attention to the fact that listening to music at more than 85 decibels for eight hours or 100 decibels for 15 minutes can cause a lot of harm.
Personal audio device have their parameters set between 75 and 135 decibels, where 75 is the lowest volume and 135 is the highest. The grand majority of people choose to listen to their favorite music somewhere between 75 and 105 decibels, but there are some who use maximum volume. There are some apps for gadgets that have a feature created especially for those who do so, and when the highest level is reached, a notification message warns the user that it could affect their hearing.
On the other hand, the number of decibels in nightclubs and bars range between 104 and 112, which is considerably higher than what someone would choose on their own. Furthermore, concerts have been shown to expose the listeners to the highest sound level of music. The Rock music peak is of 150 decibels, while a classic symphonic music succeeds in reaching 120-137 decibels. In order to make a comparison, a normal piano practice sounds as loud as 60-70 decibels, a flute in concert reaches 92-103 decibels and a rock amplifier can get up to 120 decibels. However, there are instruments that sound louder than others, for example the bass drum in a 75-piece orchestra covers one-third of the total sound power.
An interesting fact about frequency sounds is that the most damaging ones are those of 2-4,000 Hz, such as the uppermost octave of the piccolo that is 2,048-4,096 Hz. As a consequence, musicians lose their hearing at an incidence of 4-43 percent in classical musicians and 13-30 percent in rock musicians.
Another important cause of hearing loss is the usage of fire weapons that have been shown to reach 144 decibels SPL for small caliber weapons (a 0.22 caliber rifle) and get up to 172 decibels SPL for a 0.357 caliber revolver. If ear plugs or other protection is needed at a live concert, when firing guns double ear protection is required.
The United Nations agency stated that the concern about the exposure to loud sounds is rising, recreational settings such as discos, night clubs, pubs, bars, cinemas, concerts, sporting events and even fitness classes being the center of attention regarding the issue. The development of technology is offering so many possibilities where music players are concerned, so people are tempted to use unsafe volumes for long periods of time, which is actually a serious threat. Dr Etienne Krug, WHO director for the Department for Management of Non-communicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention is one of the scientists that are very much concerned about the situation. He said that young people don’t realize what they are doing while going about their daily lives and trying to enjoy them. Presently, there are 360 million people spread throughout the world that have serious hearing loss having various causes, including high volume exposure. Other ones could be genetic conditions, complications at birth, infectious diseases, chronic ear infections, using certain medications and also the undeniable aging process. Fortunately, half of all those causes can be avoided, if the people are well informed and take measures at the right time.
What actually happens inside the ear is that the sensory cells are damaged when they are exposed to high sound volumes. WHO recommends some safe listening times that have been categorized in domains. For instance, the maximum time that the ear must hear a vuvuzela or siren sound is of 09 seconds, taking into consideration that they reach 120 decibels. A rock song should be listened to for only 28 seconds, and a mp3 player taken at the maximum volume shouldn’t be used for more than 4 minutes. In conclusion, the recommendation of the engineers and scientists is to use all audio device at about 60 percent of the maximum in order to protect the hearing system of the human body.
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