World Health Organisation warns on risks of loud music

More than a billion teens and young adults around the world are at risk of losing their hearing because of listening to music too loudly and too often, according to a new report by the World Health Organisation.

According to the report:

  • Nearly half of 12 – 35 year olds are exposed to unsafe levels of sound from the use of personal audio devices
  • A further 40 per cent were exposed to damaging levels of sounds from clubs and bars
  • WHO recommends we cut the amount of time we spend listening to music on our personal audio devices to an hour a day

The report was developed to mark International Ear Care Day (March 3), a day to raise hearing health awareness across the world.  This year, the theme for International Ear Care Day is Make Listening Safe and to draw attention to the rising problem of noise-induced hearing loss.

How loud is too loud?

Alison King, Principal Audiologist Paediatrics at Australian Hearing said, “If you’re listening to music at less than 85 decibels, than the amount of time you spend listening to music is not a problem. It becomes a concern when the sound is so loud that it can be heard leaking out of the car or out of people’s headphones.”

Ms King added, “Noise-induced hearing loss has been around for many years.  Workplaces used to have very high levels of sounds, but we’ve been able to combat this with regulation.”

“Now that personal devices deliver sounds to the ear much more efficiently, it’s very easy for people to listen to music at much higher levels.”

How can I protect my hearing?

  • Use hearing protection such as earplugs at loud music events. Special earplugs can be made for musicians to protect their hearing while preserving the sound quality of the music
  • Give your ears frequent rest from noise. Limit your time in very noisy places and take regular breaks in quieter areas
  • Set the volume of your personal audio device at a moderate level. Don’t turn up the volume to try to drown out background noise.  As a general rule, set the volume to a level where you can hear someone at arm’s length without them having to shout

The research division of Australian Hearing – the National Acoustics Laboratories, launched a fantastic new site called Know Your Noise.  The website includes useful resources such as a Noise Risk Calculator, an online hearing check and a Decibel Database.  Click here to check your hearing now.

Make Listening Safe infographic

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