Just about everyone enjoys listening to music, but can loud music lead to hearing loss? We’ve all seen teenagers who put on a pair of headphones and crank the volume up to astonishing levels. You may even have seen the latest episode of ‘Skins’ where a rocker loses his hearing due to listening to a rock track at a ridiculously high volume. The truth is that this depiction is true – loud music (as well as exposure to any loud noise) can cause hearing loss.
What Dangers are There?
With recent studies showing that around 25% of people under the age of 24 listen to music at the maximum level, this is a worrying statistic. Although you may think that plugging your headphones in and drowning out the outside noise is a good thing, it may be leading to hearing damage – semi permanent or even permanent. Exposure to loud levels of noise can cause damage to the neural pathways leading from the ear canal to the brain. This is called nerve damage.
Frequent or prolonged exposure to volumes of over 85 decibels can and will cause hearing loss. Loud music is one of the most common causes of hearing loss and the old age argument of a parent telling a child to turn the music volume down is a valid one. Even with headphones however hearing loss can still be caused. With many mp3 players are able to blast tunes out at 104 decibels – this is almost 20 decibels over the safety line.
How does Loud Music Damage Hearing?
Everyone is born with tiny hair cells that line the inner ear. These cells transmit signals to the brain, which get interpreted as sound. Listening to loud music flattens these hairs, causing them to not work properly. Although in time the hairs will spring back up and work as usual, prolonged listening of loud music can cause these hairs to stay flat or even break – causing hearing damage. Loud music and hearing loss do seem to go hand in hand and although it may not happen instantly, prolonged listening can cause serious damage.
Are there any Solutions?
Most people are unaware of the problems that loud music can cause and they simply do not believe the loud music can be attributed to hearing loss. It is wise to consider keeping the volume of music at a level below 80 decibels in order to protect yourself. There are specially designed earplugs on the market today for music lovers that filter the frequencies allowing for a full music experience without the need for a high volume.
If hearing loss has already become a problem, eating a diet of antioxidants (tomatoes, avocadoes and oily fish) can often help to prevent hearing loss, as can quitting smoking and taking time to rest your ears in noisy situations. Loud music can lead to hearing loss but being more aware of the situation can prevent this from happening.