Loud Music is a Risky Habit for Teens
A leading Canadian researcher cautions young people on the dangers of loud music after new research revealed an alarming level of early hearing damage in teenagers.
Larry Roberts of McMaster University, Canada, worked with a team of researchers from the University of São Paulo School of Medicine, Brazil, to look at early hearing damage in 170 young people aged 11 to 17 year old.
After performing detailed hearing tests and interviewing the group, the team found that nearly all engaged in “risky listening habits” by going to parties, clubs and listening to loud music on personal listening devices, and that 28% were already experiencing persistent tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing in the ears that more commonly affects those over 50 yrs.
Although Mr. Roberts explained that it is common after listening to loud music to experience a ringing in the ears for the next day or so, this brief and temporary tinnitus is still an early warning sign of vulnerability to the damage that noise exposure can cause, and was found in more than half of the participants.
After further testing, the team found that although the group could still hear as well as their peers, those experiencing persistent tinnitus were more likely to have a significantly reduced tolerance for loud noise, a sign of hidden damage to the nerves that are used to transmit sounds to the brain.
This hidden damage can point to a more serious hearing impairment later in life, and while some other forms of hearing loss can be repaired, this particular nerve damage cannot be undone.
The only solution is prevention.
Commenting on the findings Mr. Roberts cautioned, “It’s a growing problem and I think it’s going to get worse. My personal view is that there is a major public health challenge coming down the road in terms of difficulties with hearing.”
Although the consequences can be serious, young people may not even be aware of the damage they are causing themselves when they listen to loud music, with Roberts comparing the campaign against loud music to the early campaigns against smoking, when many had no idea that what they were doing was in fact harming their health.
The research was published last Monday in the journal Scientific Reports.
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