Hearing loss due to excessive exposure to booming sounds from earphones is a condition that most people choose not to listen to. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1.1 billion people are at risk of losing their ability to hear because of prolonged exposure to loud sounds. You might be one of them.
But how loud is too loud? The revving engine of a motorcycle is about 100 decibels. If you put your earphones on and turn the volume up to 70%, you are listening to approximately 85 decibels. Moreover, if you want to be intimate with your music and any background noise ruins your listening experience, you will put your earphones to maximum volume straight away which is more or less 90 decibels. Based on WHO’s findings, noise-induced hearing loss occurs in two ways: 1. Exposure to 85 decibels of sound or noise for eight hours, and 2. Listening to sound above 100 decibels for 15 minutes.
If you look more closely at the anatomy of the ear, you will understand that it is built to hear the softest of sounds and not to sustain booming noises. The ear is the body’s survival tool, which is why animals tend to sprint, scurry, or fly away when they hear a branch crack from a distance.
At tremendous real-time speed, sound waves that enter the ear make the eardrum vibrate. These vibrations reach the cochlea, a chamber in the inner ear consisting of fluid and small hair-like cells. The fluid in the cochlea vibrates, making the small hairs vibrate too. The louder the sound, the stronger the hairs vibrate. However, the hairs can only sustain so much.
Temporary hearing loss after attending a concert is the result of hairs in the cochlea losing sensitivity after prolonged strong vibrations. Fortunately, this will recover over time. On the other hand, the irreversible noise-induced hearing loss occurs when the small hair-like cells in the cochlea are not responding to vibrations anymore. Thus, not sending any data to the auditory nerve of the brain to be interpreted as sound.
Symptoms of hearing loss
Hearing muffled sounds or speech Having difficulty understanding others’ speech in environments with lots of background noise, e.g. social gatherings Having difficulty hearing specific sounds Asking other to speak louder, more slowly, or requesting them to repeat themselves Others are complaining that the volume of your speakers or TV is too loud Low volume, low chances of hearing loss
Too loud is too much. Take care of your ears by responsibly lowering down your earphones’ volume and limiting your use of this gadget. The ideal use is 60% volume for 60 minutes. You can also buy earphones with active or passive noise cancellation features so you won’t have to turn up the volume whenever you are in a loud and noisy environment.
If you feel like you have trouble understanding others’ speech and notice that there’s a change in your ability to hear, visit your nearest ENT doctor to prevent further hearing loss. ENT doctors and specialists will conduct a full examination of your ear to assess your hearing condition. Adam & Eve Specialized Medical Centre’s ENT Department has ENT doctors specializing in Audiology to help you address different causes of hearing loss.