DrSugar is in the house! This week she's teaching us all how to protect our hearing.
Ever wonder if listening to your portable music player of choice could be detrimental to your hearing? New research, published in the International Journal of Audiology and reported by WebMD, suggests that up to one-fourth of college students may have evidence of early hearing loss and that it's possible that portable music players may play a role.
The researchers made this discovery after recruiting college students with normal hearing for a study on whether the use of portable music players can lead to temporary hearing loss. Several of the students who reported normal hearing were actually found to have signs of hearing loss when tested formally. To learn more about hearing loss and its possible correlation to portable music players, keep reading!
Hearing loss is common as people age and there are many symptoms and signs of hearing loss which includes: muffled quality of speech and other sounds, difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd of people, frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly, needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio, withdrawal from conversations, and avoidance of some social settings. Causes of hearing loss include: earwax blockage, ruptured eardrum, ear infection, abnormal bone growth, tumors, and most commonly — damage to the inner ear structures (hair and nerve cells).
Risk factors that lead to the loss of hairs and nerve cells in the inner ear include: aging, family history, having a job where you are exposed to loud noises (occupational exposure), certain illnesses that lead to high fevers (such as meningitis), certain medications (including the antibiotic gentamicin and high dose NSAID's such as aspirin), and recreational noises such as loud fireworks, firearms, loud concerts and loud music listened to through portable music players. Here's a list of common noises and their decibel levels to give you an idea of the intensity of noises you may be exposed to.
Hearing loss can be diagnosed by your physician or an audiologist with general screening tests, tuning fork tests, or audiometer tests (which are the most thorough and administered by an audiologist). Treatment of hearing loss depends on the cause of hearing loss and can include removing wax blockage, hearing aids or cochlear implants (for severe hearing loss). Hearing loss prevention consists of steps you can take to help prevent noise and age-related hearing loss and includes: protecting your ears in the workplace, having regular hearing tests if you are repeatedly exposed to loud noises at work, and avoiding/minimizing recreational noise exposure — by turning down that volume on your portable music player!
Referring back to the research discussed earlier, the author of the study states that more research is necessary to determine the exact association between hearing loss and the use of portable music players. The author's advice — turn the volume down! The author also states that if you cannot hear someone talking to you while listening to a portable music player then it is too loud! So, FitSugar readers, protect your hearing and make sure that when you listen to a portable music player, that you do so carefully!
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DrSugar's posts are for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. Click here for more details.