1 billion at risk of hearing loss due to excessive usage of earbuds

Research indicates that about 65 per cent of individuals who use personal music players with earbuds or headphones consistently listen at volumes exceeding 85 (decibels) dB, which is harmful to the inner ear.
Image used for representational purposes only.
Image used for representational purposes only.

GUNTUR : The proliferation of electronic gadgets, particularly earbuds and headphones, has coincided with a troubling rise in hearing problems. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that over 1 billion people aged 12 to 35 are at risk of hearing loss due to prolonged and excessive exposure to loud music and recreational noise.

According to the 2021 World Report on Hearing by WHO, by 2050, nearly one in four people will experience some degree of hearing loss, a number that experts believe could increase significantly. Earbuds and headphones are primary culprits of noise-induced hearing loss. Research indicates that about 65 per cent of individuals who use personal music players with earbuds or headphones consistently listen at volumes exceeding 85 (decibels) dB, which is harmful to the inner ear. Beyond music, these devices are also used for watching movies, TV shows, and videos on social media platforms, many of which do not regulate volume output, leading to dangerously high sound levels in subsequent videos.

To prevent severe hearing problems, experts recommend adhering to the 60/60 rule: listen to music at no more than 60 per cent of your device’s maximum volume for no longer than 60 minutes at a time. Despite the growing awareness, a significant challenge remains in diagnosing hearing issues early. Many people ignore early warning signs and delay consulting a doctor until the situation worsens, according to Dr N Prasad, an ENT specialist in Guntur. Awareness of hearing ailments has increased, particularly among parents of tech-savvy children. Radha Madhavi, a concerned parent, explains that after recognising the risk of hearing problems in children who use headphones for online gaming, she imposed restrictions on both headphone usage and screen time.

This awareness needs to extend to adults and especially to the youth.

Symptoms

  • Often asking people to repeat themselves

  • Trouble following a conversation, especially when talking on the telephone or in a noisy environment like a restaurant

  • You think people are mumbling

  • Inability to hear certain high-pitched sounds, like birds singing

  • Need to turn up the volume on the television, computer or tablet

  • You have tinnitus (ringing in your ears)

  • You feel as if there’s pressure or fluid inside your ear

  • Balance problems or dizziness.

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