Listening to your tunes too loud and too long can lead to permanent hearing damage
On campus there is a sea of students walking to class while listening to iPods and other portable music devices. If these people have the volume so high that they cannot hear what else is going on around them, they may be damaging their ears.
The first guidelines for volume level durations of earphone music listening have been released through a study completed by Children’s Hospital in Boston and CU. According to a CU press release on Oct. 21, portable digital music players, such as the iPod can be safely listened to at 70 percent total volume for up to 4.6 hours a day without risk of hearing loss.
“These levels were based on prior studies of current damage risks compiled by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health,” said Corey Portnuff, a doctoral researcher in the speech, language and hearing sciences department.
Portnuff analyzed data for the study and said that damage to hearing occurs when ears are exposed to loud sounds over time, especially in long durations. With earphones supplied by iPod, a person listening at 80 percent of the total volume can only tolerate 90 minutes of listening a day before damage is sustained.
Damage to hearing occurs when hair cells in the inner ear are stressed, according to the CU press release. The hair cells convert vibrations into signals the brain interprets as particular sounds. If these hair cells become permanently damaged because of prolonged high volume, a person loses some hearing capacity. If you’re experiencing difficulty in hearing, it may be time to undergo a hearing testing to get a proper diagnosis.
Portnuff said that many may never experience hearing loss because people have different levels of sound their ears can tolerate. People differentiate between what he called “tough” and “tender” ears. Unfortunately, there is no way to identify which people have tough ears and can safely listen to high volumes with little threat of damage.
Portnuff said people with some hearing loss need to monitor listening volumes closely.
“People who already have hearing loss can cause themselves more hearing loss through extended use at high volumes,” Portnuff said.
Joanna Peluso, a senior humanities major, uses her iPod for around three hours per day. She mostly uses it to workout and keeps the volume at about 90 percent to drown out other noise.
“I have never really been concerned about my hearing, although maybe I should be,” Peluso said.
Freshman communications major Charlie Zaragoza listens to his MP3 player for about one hour a day, using Sony earbuds. Zaragoza keeps the volume at around 75 percent, and hearing loss is something he said is a growing concern.
“Sometimes certain sounds come out very loud and ring in the ear,” Zaragoza said.