Youngsters who are exposed to very loud music are at greater risk of suffering from hearing defects, a new study into the ringing-ear condition known as tinnitus has found.
“It’s a growing problem and I think it’s going to get worse,” said Larry Roberts of McMaster University in Canada.
“My personal view is that there is a major public health challenge coming down the road in terms of difficulties with hearing.”
For the study, the research team interviewed and performed detailed hearing tests on 170 adolescents aged 11 to 17 year old. It was found that almost all of them engage in “risky listening habits” – at parties, clubs and on personal listening devices – and that 29 percent of them had developed persistent tinnitus, which typically occurs in adults over age 50.
In fact, the participants with persistent tinnitus also showed heightened sensitivity to loud sounds, indicating that the neurons that transmit sounds to the brain may have been damaged.
Roberts said that while it’s common for a person to hear ringing after listening to loud music, it can be an early indicator of the damaging effects of noise exposure.
“The levels of sound exposure that are quite commonplace in our environment, particularly among youth, appear to be sufficient to produce cochlear injuries,” Roberts added. “The message is, ‘Protect your ears.’”