On March 3, in recognition of International Ear Care Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a bulletin addressing the growing problem of youth hearing loss.  We typically think of deafness and hearing loss as either a condition a person has from birth or a natural part of getting older.  New research, however, illustrates that as many as 15% of school-aged children live with permanent hearing loss.  The culprit: loud music.

Doctors attribute the rising numbers of children, teens, and young adults with damaged hearing to the ubiquity of headphones and portable music players.  Many people listen to music on these devices with the volume turned all the way up, producing sound levels of well over the recommended 85-decibel (Db) limit for unlimited listening.  Both frequency and duration of exposure contribute to the problem.  Loud sounds strain the ears’ sensory receptors, which is why concert attendees hear muffled sounds accompanied by ringing immediately afterwards.  Hearing returns as the ears recover; but repeated prolonged exposure can cause permanent damage, typically beginning with higher-pitched sounds.

Doctors advise spending no more than 8 hours per day listening to sounds of 85 decibels or more.  Recommended limits for common noises and their decibel levels are as follows.  For longer exposure, the use of earplugs or other ear protection is recommended.

DecibelsTime Limit (Hours:Minutes:Seconds)Example
902:30:00lawn mower, snow blower
9547:00:00motorcycle, power drill
10015:00:00hair dryer, subway train
10500:04:00table saw, garbage truck
11000:00:30chainsaw, stereo
11500:00:28rock concert, jackhammer
12000:00:09siren, welding torch
12500:00:03thunder (directly overhead)
130<00:00:01jet at takeoff, shotgun firing


If you or a loved one is suffering from hearing loss, Oklahoma Hearing Center is here to help with all of your audiology needs.  Our physicians will administer a hearing test to assess the damage and work with you to find the best treatment plan, as well as helping you avoid further damage.  Visit our site today!