A new study at McMaster University has found that over 30% of teenagers suffer from tinnitus, a condition which causes various degrees of ringing or buzzing in the ears. According to the World Health Organization, over 1 billion young people put themselves at risk for hearing loss by listening to their portable music players or at large scale entertainment venues. At some electronic dance music festivals, the sound can remain at 120 decibels for hours at a time, NBC News reported.
According to Larry Roberts, study coauthor and senior researcher in McMaster University’s department of psychology, neuroscience and behavior, the damaging trend among youths is far from ending.
“It’s a growing problem and I think it’s going to get worse,” he said. “My personal view is that there is a major public health challenge coming down the road in terms of difficulties with hearing.”
Roberts and his colleagues gathered 170 students aged 11 to 17 and perform detailed hearing tests on them to determine their relationship with tinnitus. According to the results, most of the subjects engaged in “risky listening habits,” over half of which admitted themselves that they had experienced the condition in the past.
Even though students did not show any sign of severe hearing loss during the tests, those with tinnitus proved to be more sensitive to loud noises. Roberts said that this was a sign of damage in their auditory nerves.
“Our results indicate that tinnitus persisting a few days or longer is alarmingly prevalent among adolescents who make extensive use of personal listening devices,” he said.
According to the National Institutes of Health, prolonged listening of sound higher than 85 decibels can quickly cause permanent damage.
With the sophistication of modern smartphones and other mobile listening devices, experts say that the risk of tinnitus has vastly increased. What they suggest is listening to a device lower than 60% of its possible volume output, for only 60 minutes a day.
Source: NBC News