This phrase is becoming more common today—thanks to the misuse of
MP3 players and other portable music devices that may lead to hearing loss.
Neuro-otologist Gerard Gianoli, MD
, explains that hearing loss is caused by three main factors:
- Increased volume
- Extended exposure.
According to The Mayo Clinic, about 10 million Americans have noise-induced
For those people who are more apt to hearing problems, a single loud noise
(such as a gunshot) usually will not cause permanent hearing loss. Likewise,
exposure to low volume levels will not cause hearing loss.
However, continuous exposure to volumes above 85 decibels can cause irreversible
hearing loss. By way of comparison, 85 decibels is like standing right
next to an 18-wheeler as it revs its engine!
Today’s portable music devices produce sound well above 85 decibels.
The American Speech-Language- Hearing Association found that almost 40
percent of adults and students listen to their headphones on the “loud”
or “very loud” setting. They also found that more than half
of adults use headphones for 1 or more hours at a time. This means that
one in every five adults is subjecting himself or herself to possible
future hearing loss.
Another factor in hearing loss is the type of headphone or earphone used.
“Headphones” sit on top of your ears. An earphone, or “earbud,”
rests inside your ear canal. Because earphones are directing 100 percent
of the sound directly at your eardrum, they are more dangerous to your
hearing. On average, earphones are between 7 and 9 decibels louder than