Portable music devices have revolutionized the way people listen to music. As the popularity of such devices continues to rise, however, ear doctors worry that the number of people with hearing loss will also increase.
How Hearing Loss Occurs
Portable music devices and loud noises can cause hearing problems by damaging the hair cells in the inner ear. While these hair cells can recover from temporary damage, continued exposure to extreme loud noise can cause permanent damage. When the hair cells are destroyed, partial hearing loss will occur.
The use of headphones may increase the risks of noise-related hearing loss from loud music or voices. Though the damage usually occurs over time, doctors are reporting that many people in their 20s and 30s have noise-related hearing loss.
Signs of Hearing Loss
Common indicators of hearing loss include hearing muffled sounds, having difficulty filtering the background noise, or increasing the volume to hear the music. Sound amplification, however, is not always advisable as some frequencies can either be too loud or too soft. While it can increase your ability to hear, it may not help you understand the words being said.
Normal conversation usually registers at 40 to 60 decibels. Headphones, on the other hand, can crank up the level to 110 dbs. If you are exposed to over 90 decibels for an extended time, you may put yourself at risk for hearing loss. You may also be at a greater risk if you have a family history of this ear problem.
When to Call a Doctor
You may need to consult an ear doctor if you’re having difficulty hearing certain sounds. If it’s harder for you to hear high-pitched sounds or understand high-pitched voices, you may need to see your healthcare provider. Your doctor may conduct a hearing test or advise you to wear hearing aids.
Preventing Hearing Loss
While noise induced-hearing loss is gradual and painless, the damage is permanent. When the cells are destroyed, the sensory nerve cells will not recover or repair. Fortunately, you can do some things to prevent noise-induced hearing loss.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should limit your exposure to sounds by wearing ear protection especially when involved in activities that produce loud noises. Turn down the music when wearing headphones or move away from loud sounds whenever possible.
Don’t let hearing problems affect your quality of life. Consult an audiologist now to learn more about hearing aids or other options for your hearing problem.