It is okay to enjoy music, but at reasonable levels please!

Audiologist Sandra Baker cringes when she can hear loud music emanating from another person’s headphones while on the bus or walking down the street.

“If you are listening with headphones and someone is talking to you in a normal voice at an arm’s length away, you should be able to hear them,” Baker told the Georgia Straight over the phone. “If you can’t, if they have to raise their voice to hear them, it’s too loud.”

“What will happen is people will start to lose those high-frequency sounds and, over time as we age, we start to have more problems hearing those things more clearly,” Baker understands that sometimes people can’t resist blaring their favourite song. But the registered audiologist says cranking up the volume on personal music players, like iPods, needs to be done in moderation.

“Hearing loss is not at this point a curable thing,” Baker said. “Once hearing loss occurs, there is no way of reversing it.”

Dr. Kapil Khatter says that’s all the more reason that governments should start regulating how loud default volume settings can go on personal music players.

“By having this default-level setting, it also tells people what a safe level is,” Khatter, a family physician says. “When you are sitting there turning the volume from one to 10, you probably don’t know what a safe volume is, but a default level, it says, ‘This is what the standard says is okay for me.’ ”

In 2009, the European Union changed the standards manufacturers of personal music players must follow to bring their product to market. Personal music players must have a default volume limit of 80 decibels, and their makers must provide consumers with warning labels on products that could exceed a safe listening volume.

“We don’t think about hearing the way we think about other illnesses, and the effect that it has on people is long-term,” Baker said. “It is okay to enjoy music, but there are reasonable levels and there are levels that will cause you damage over time, where you will get to a point where the music you enjoy now—you won’t be able to hear it.”

If you have any questions about hearing loss or hearing aids contact Hidden Hearing.

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