Too loud, too long: The concerning impact earbuds are having on young people

CBS4 This Morning

INDIANAPOLIS –At some point just about every parent has told their child to turn their music down or “you’ll go deaf!”

Like many things we ignored as children, our parents were right.

Research presented to the Acoustical Society of America found children, teenagers, and young adults are listening to music through headphones and earbuds at levels that are too high, and for too long, prompting concerns of widespread hearing loss as adults.

Doctors at IU Health say it’s a problem they’re also seeing more in younger patients.

“This noise exposure is traditionally something that we saw on people [who] had long-term exposure over many years — repeated long-term exposure. Factory workers, people working with heavy equipment, military equipment and the fact that we’re noticing in the younger people really only have recreational exposure to sound suggest a different lifestyle,” Dr. Sarah Burgin said.

Burgin says 85 decibels is the recommended sound level limit for sustained use. She says the higher the decibels, the less amount of time you should be exposed to that level of sound.

“For kids we know that hearing loss that is untreated can be associated with poor academic performance in for a professional achievement. And so again, on every front, your hearing affects every impact of your life,” she said.

Hearing loss is also associated with higher rates of depression and higher levels of social isolation along the elderly. Placing more emphasis on the importance of implanting hearing loss prevention techniques early in life.

Burgin recommends using tools like volume limiting, or noise canceling headphones for help in turning things down. She also recommends the 60/60 method, which is listening to your headphones or earbuds at 60% volume for 60 minutes, and then taking a break.

“Like a lot of things in healthcare, prevention is the key. So if you can reserve your natural hearing, that’s so much better than even early identification in treatment with hearing aids or surgical options for hearing correction. Certainly the hearing that you were born with is the best possible hearing,” Burgin said.

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