Noise and sound are an important part of our daily lives that we often take for granted and it is how we communicate with each other. There are all different types of noise in our environments such as music, transit, appliances, tools, events, and entertainment. Sometimes these sounds are at a safe level and won’t affect your hearing, but when these sounds become too loud or you are exposed too long they can damage hearing and cause noise-induced hearing loss. This has become a concern for young people using earbuds with personal audio systems. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost 50% or 1.1 billion young people from the age of 12 – 35 years old are at risk of hearing loss because of noise exposure that is too loud or too long, including those who use earbuds with personal audio systems (World Health Organization, 2019).
Standards to Help Prevent Hearing Loss
In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) joined forces and released new standards for the use and manufacturing of personal audio devices so that they can become safer. They recommend that the devices have sound allowances which is a function that would track the noise level and duration that the user is exposed to for reference reasons. This would be used to create a user profile that will educate the user on how safe their listening habits are. This would include general information to the user about safe listening practices. Lastly, the WHO and ITU recommend volume limiting options on personal listening devices that would automatically reduce the volume on a personal listening device when it is too loud (World Health Organization, 2019).
Per Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who is the WHO general director, “Given that we have the technological know-how to prevent hearing loss, it should not be the case that so many young people continue to damage their hearing while listening to music. They must understand that once they lose their hearing, it won’t come back. This new WHO-ITU standard will do much to better safeguard these young consumers as they go about doing something they enjoy.” (World Health Organization, 2019). The WHO estimates that by the year 2050, that 1 out of every 10 people in the world will have disabling hearing loss. This could be very costly, especially for a condition that could be prevented.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss
Noise induced hearing loss can be immediate or it can happen over a period of time. Many people may not know that they are damaging their hearing and that’s why education and regulation are so important. Noise induced hearing loss can happen at any age. This is especially concerning for young people who will have to live with the side effects the rest of their life. It is estimated that 17% of 12 to 19 year olds have possible noise induced hearing loss (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2019). Noise induced hearing loss can be prevented through education and reducing volumes for yourself and your loved ones.
- Noise and listening are important aspects of our lives. When noise is too loud or you are exposed too long it can cause noise induced hearing loss. Noise induced hearing loss can affect anyone but it is especially concerning in young people.
- The World Health Organization and International Telecommunication Union joined up to create standards for personal audio listening devices to help prevent noise induced hearing loss.