The new study shows 'the potential for serious population-wide hearing loss is very large', an expert said Photo: AFP/File
health

Around 1 billion young people risk hearing loss from headphones, venues: study

12 Comments
By Daniel Lawler

Around one billion young people worldwide could be at risk of hearing loss from listening to headphones or attending loud music venues, a large review of the available research estimated on Wednesday.

The World Health Organization-led study called on young people to be more careful about their listening habits, and urged governments and manufacturers to do more to protect future hearing.

The analysis published in the journal BMJ Global Health looked at data from 33 studies published in English, Spanish, French and Russian over the last two decades covering more than 19,000 participants aged between 12-34.

It found that 24 percent of the young people had unsafe listening practices while using headphones with devices such as smartphones.

And 48 percent were found to have been exposed to unsafe noise levels at entertainment venues such as concerts or nightclubs.

Combining these findings, the study estimated that between 670,000 to 1.35 billion young people could be at risk of hearing loss.

The wide range is partly because some young people are probably at risk from both factors, said Lauren Dillard, an audiologist at the Medical University of South Carolina and the study's first author.

Dillard told AFP the best way for people to lessen their risk of hearing loss from headphones is to turn down the volume and listen for shorter periods.

"Unfortunately, people do really like very loud music," she admitted.

Headphone users should use settings. or apps on smartphones to monitor sound levels, Dillard advised.

In loud environments, noise-cancelling headphones can help avoid "cranking up your music to try to drown out all that background noise", she added.

Earplugs should be worn at loud events like concerts or nightclubs, she said, adding, "Maybe it's fun to be in the front by the speakers, but it's not a good idea for your long-term health.

"All of these behaviors, these exposures can compound over the course of your entire life, and then when you're 67 years old, it can have a pretty big impact," she said.

Dillard called on governments to comply with WHO guidelines on safe listening, including making sure venues monitor and limit music levels.

She also urged companies that make devices like phones to warn listeners when the volume is too loud, and to include parental locks to restrict children's exposure.

Limitations of the research included the varying methodologies across different studies and that none came from low-income countries.

Stephen Stansfeld, an expert on noise and health at Queen Mary University of London who was not involved in the research, said it showed "the potential for serious population-wide hearing loss is very large".

More than 430 million people -- over five percent of the world's population -- currently have disabling hearing loss, according to the WHO, which estimates the number will rise to 700 million by 2050.

© 2022 AFP

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

12 Comments
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Headphone users should use settings. or apps on smartphones to monitor sound levels, Dillard advised.

May not be the most decisive way to reduce the hearing loss (since it can be ignored) but at least it seems more productive than the "lower the volume" advice, if people listened to the classical warnings we would not have so much people at risk in the first place, but making a little effort to monitor their own habits can have a powerful effect in letting people realize unsafe practices that are difficult to recognize without those tools.

Noise cancelling could be useful as well, but it may be overstimating the efficacy of the technology.

Dillard called on governments to comply with WHO guidelines on safe listening, including making sure venues monitor and limit music levels.

This is likely a much more effective measure, even if people would likely oppose, part of the responsibilities of a government is to help protecting public health, and hearing is an important factor, and part of the responsibilities of the WHO as the global authority in public health is to make sure governments are at least aware of what should be done. This time new evidence shows the huge impact on hearing loss from several sources, so new guidelines and recommendations should follow to refelct this.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Kids have been going to loud concerts for half a century. This is nothing new, and no, people won't be wearing earplugs at them.

The lowering of the volume in earphones/headsets is where the difference will be made.

On the other hand, noise-canceling tech helps so you don't have to boost the volume much, but if you're mobile and outside, it can make it a bit more dangerous.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Headphone users should use settings. or apps on smartphones to monitor sound levels, Dillard advised.

May not be the most decisive way to reduce the hearing loss (since it can be ignored)

People are going to follow what the actual expert here suggests. There is a reason she is giving that advice.

This is likely a much more effective measure, even if people would likely oppose, part of the responsibilities of a government is to help protecting public health, and hearing is an important factor, and part of the responsibilities of the WHO as the global authority in public health is to make sure governments are at least aware of what should be done.

That is just your personal bias. And the WHO agency is just repeating what is already known. The CDC has already issued guidelines on this, and it is a well researched matter in the US.

This time new evidence shows the huge impact on hearing loss from several sources, so new guidelines and recommendations should follow to refelct this.

Nothing new here, and as far back even as 1974 the EPA gave advice on this matter. And there are already laws in place governing noise, in the US.

It would be great if the WHO agency helped poorer countries, instead of dropping the ball on malaria, polio, monkeypox, HPV, and so on.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

People are going to follow what the actual expert here suggests. There is a reason she is giving that advice.

Any basis for this statement? people refuse to follow experts advice routinely, what evidence do you have that this specific case will be different, and specially that the effect in preventing loss is going to be decisive?

That is just your personal bias. And the WHO agency is just repeating what is already known. The CDC has already issued guidelines on this, and it is a well researched matter in the US.

Completely false, this is based on clear evidence of the damage and more importantly clear NEW evidence that can become the basis of new recommendations, If you are going to comment without reading the article and pretend this report adds nothing to what is known about the problem you are at risk of making mistakes as you are doing. the WHO alread has guidelines as well, but thanks to this new information (that the CDC did not had either) they can bot hbe improved.

Nothing new here, and as far back even as 1974 the EPA gave advice on this matter. And there are already laws in place governing noise, in the US.

So you think the BMJ published as research articles things that do not improve with new information? what arguments do you have to contradict both the authors and editors in saying this is important precisely because it is new evidence? just your personal opinion.

It would be great if the WHO agency helped poorer countries, instead of dropping the ball on malaria, polio, monkeypox, HPV, and so on.

The WHO is doing it, you even proved it yourself when you said one of their collaborator actions for malaria were precisely what should be done, involuntarily proving the WHO is the one doing the most against infecitous diseases in developing countries.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Seems like these ‘experts’ don’t want people to have fun anymore.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

Seems like these ‘experts’ don’t want people to have fun anymore.

Not really. Lots of fun things are risky in one way or another. Experts want to help you understand the risks so you may manage them appropriately. Example, it is not a matter of not riding horses or bicycles, both of which are activities that can lead to serious injury or even death, but maybe you want to wear a helmet while doing so to reduce the risk of serious injury. Occasionally attending a loud concert probably isn't going to do permanent hearing damage but constant loud music will.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I have always limited my time using headphones. Also when I attended a loud rock concert I avoided standing near the speakers.

When working on building sites or in factories I protected my ears.

After 70 years, my hearing is still A+ perfect.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Wallace, likewise while flying helicopters I always wore foam earplugs inside my helmet when a military pilot or headset when I was a civil pilot. No appreciable hearing loss in an occupation where losing the high frequencies is not uncommon.

Now imagine the bar tender or servers working a night club that has rock bands on stage every night and no wall separating the bar from the concert area. That describes more than a few joints I have been in where you have to shout over the music so the bartender or the server can hear your order.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

wallaceNov. 18  03:52 pm JST

I have always limited my time using headphones. Also when I attended a loud rock concert I avoided standing near the speakers.

When working on building sites or in factories I protected my ears.

After 70 years, my hearing is still A+ perfect.

And you didn't need an article published in 2022 to tell you so, right?

Any basis for this statement? people refuse to follow experts advice routinely, what evidence do you have that this specific case will be different, and specially that the effect in preventing loss is going to be decisive?

The basis is the expert who said this:

Lauren Dillard, an audiologist at the Medical University of South Carolina and the study's first author.

Completely false, this is based on clear evidence of the damage and more importantly clear NEW evidence that can become the basis of new recommendations, If you are going to comment without reading the article and pretend this report adds nothing to what is known about the problem you are at risk of making mistakes as you are doing. the WHO alread has guidelines as well, but thanks to this new information (that the CDC did not had either) they can bot hbe improved.

Completely wrong and unsubstantiated. The US has been at the forefront in research in this field as anyone in the science industry knows.

So you think the BMJ published as research articles things that do not improve with new information? what arguments do you have to contradict both the authors and editors in saying this is important precisely because it is new evidence? just your personal opinion.

You tries to contradict the authors; now you're sticking up for them? Comic gold!

The WHO is doing it, you even proved it yourself when you said one of their collaborator actions for malaria were precisely what should be done, involuntarily proving the WHO is the one doing the most against infecitous diseases in developing countries.

The WHO has been a well-documented failure in these fields, as is common knowledge.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

And you didn't need an article published in 2022 to tell you so, right?

So you still contradict the experts in the article that say their report brings new information that can become a justification to change policies, recommendations, etc? Weren't you the one saying that people should follow the experts? you are here explicitly calling what they say worthless.

The basis is the expert who said this:

Exactly nowhere in your quote the expert says anything about their recommendation would be followed or have by itself any effect. Again this is the same baseless appeal to authority to disguise your personal (and mistaken) opinion as if it was supported by them.

Completely wrong and unsubstantiated. The US has been at the forefront in research in this field as anyone in the science industry knows.

Yet again you failed to bring any reference that could prove the new information of this report has been published before by anybody, much less the CDC. This proves your belief this was the case is wrong.

You tries to contradict the authors; now you're sticking up for them? Comic gold!

Contradict the authors is done exclusively by you when you say they have not provided any new information, nothing on my comments contradicts anything they said.

The WHO has been a well-documented failure in these fields, as is common knowledge.

No, that is not common knowledge, it was again only your own mistaken in understanding what is being done and by whom, when you bring the actions of an actual WHO collaborator working in their behalf as an example of what should be done you recognized that the WHO is doing it, not the opposite.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

So you still contradict the experts in the article that say their report brings new information that can become a justification to change policies, recommendations, etc? Weren't you the one saying that people should follow the experts? you are here explicitly calling what they say worthless.

The expert in the article contradicts your personal opinion:

Lauren Dillard, an audiologist at the Medical University of South Carolina and the study's first author.

Exactly nowhere in your quote the expert says anything about their recommendation would be followed or have by itself any effect. Again this is the same baseless appeal to authority to disguise your personal (and mistaken) opinion as if it was supported by them.

There is no appeal to authority (other than your unsubstantiated claims).

There is reference to authority.

The ones mentioned in the article of which you are arguing against.

No, that is not common knowledge, it was again only your own mistaken in understanding what is being done and by whom, when you bring the actions of an actual WHO collaborator working in their behalf as an example of what should be done you recognized that the WHO is doing it, not the opposite.

Just because you do not know something does not make it not true.

The scientific and medical consensus is that the WHO has had a number of failures, and especially with the Covid crisis. This is undeniable, unless one wants to deny reality.

Even within the agency there is disarray, as the head of the agency recently had to overrule one of his committees. Thankfully, the WHO does not have any legal power so established countries do no have to rely on it for mistaken information, such as regarding mask use---one of its biggest gaffes:

https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/30/world/coronavirus-who-masks-recommendation-trnd/index.html

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The expert in the article is the study's first author, this means the opinion is that its publication brings new information that is useful to the field, the publishers of the article obviously think the same else it would not be published, this means there is no contradiction with saying this is something valuable and new, the contrary to what you claimed.

The offtopic claim about maks is irrelevant to this argument, and is still invalid as long as you don't bring the evidence you claimed existed from before the pandemic that would make the advice mistaken.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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