When hearing loss was a public hazard

Photo credit: Wellington Cunha

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

This piece from television station WFAA, Dallas, Texas, discusses the station’s 1974 coverage of noise in downtown Dallas. Back then, the danger to the public’s auditory health was from jackhammers, bus engines and exhausts, police whistles.

Today, according to WFAA, hearing loss, particularly in younger people, is being blamed on a different culprit.

“We are seeing a preponderance of hearing loss in young adults and we think it is due to excessive use of headphones and earbuds,” said Dr. Sharon Miller, a professor in the University of North Texas Department of Audiology. “The World Health Organization says it is an epidemic.”

The output level on earbuds can sometimes exceed 100 decibels, a level that can cause hearing loss in a matter of minutes, according to Miller. Many smartphones will now give you a notification or warning when you’ve been listening at too high a level for too long a period of time.

Remember, if something sounds loud, it’s too loud, and your auditory health is at risk.

And if you are using a personal listening device and need to turn up the volume to overcome ambient noise to hear whatever you are listening to, you are damaging your hearing for sure.

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