We already know the dangers of loud music, but it seems many aren’t listening.
William Shapiro, a professor at New York University Langone, says teenagers are particularly at risk, and that one in five have some form of hearing loss due to excessive noise exposure.
When sound travels through the eardrum, tiny hairs called stereocilia are vibrated in the cochlea—the inner ear—which send signals to the auditory nerve and into the brain. Damage to these cells is permanent, and may lead to hearing loss and tinnitus.
In a video posted by Tech Insider, Dr. Shapiro states that earbuds are the main cause of noise exposure, brought on by listening to music at excessively high levels.
He explains: “An earbud sits in the ear, and the closer the ear bud is to the eardrum, the higher the sound pressure, and that can damage your hearing. So actually you're stressing the hairs in the cochlear, and you're shearing them and damaging them. Just increasing sound from three to six decibels doubles the intensity of the sound.”
He goes on to say that 60 percent volume is the recommended safe level when using earbuds and advises on using noise cancelling headphones instead.
“A lot of individuals will crank up the volume because they don't want to hear outside noise. Wearing noise cancelling headphones reduces the outside noise, which allows us to reduce the volume of the sound we're listening to. It's very important to keep sound at a low level.”
Exposure to excessive sound in clubs over a long period of time can also lead to tinnitus—a constant ringing in the ear, which can be painful in some cases. This is the same ringing you would experience when returning home from the club, and without proper safety precautions can become permanent. Check out RA’s excellent feature on tinnitus for more information.