A number of studies in the recent years have stressed on the negative impact of loud sounds on hearing. Sound is measured with the unit decibels (DB). It is said that the maximum limit of sound that a human ear can sustain is around 85db. Beyond this there is a possibility of damage to the ears thereby causing hearing loss. According to Dr EC Vinaya Kumar, head of department, ENT, Apollo Hospital, “Hearing loss due to loud sounds can be of two kinds. The first kind is temporary threshold shift in which a person may suffer from slight hearing loss for an hour and two. The hearing is regained on its own. This may happen when one visits a disco or any place where there is loud noise. The second kind is permanent threshold shift in which a person who is continuously exposed to loud sound may experience complete hearing loss.”
Dr Sajeet Kumar, ENT consultant sites an example of a band named “Who”. The band which was known to play the loudest music ended up with all their band members suffering from hearing loss. In simple terms a sound is loud if you have to raise your voice over the sound for someone to hear you, explains Dr Vinaya.
Loud sounds and hearing loss
“There is a muscle in our ear known as the stapedius muscle which protects the ear drums from noises. It separates the bones in the ear from the ear drum. Constant exposure to a loud sound makes the muscle lose its protective effect that results in hearing loss,” explains Dr Sajeet. He adds that apart from hearing loss many people also suffer from tinnitus which is a ringing sound in the ears. This is felt mostly during the nights and thus causes physical and emotional trauma due to the inability to sleep.
The good one?
According to Dr Vinaya, headphones are better than earphones as they cut out external sound hence you will not listen to music at a loud volume. It also doesn’t affect the ear directly. Earphones on the other hand can cause more damage as they are placed in the ear thus the eardrum is more exposed to the loud sound. He also mentions that even specific noise cancellation headphones are good as they cut out ambient sounds. Dr Sajeet differs on this as he believes that no earphone or headphone is good. According to him excessive sound exposure is not good no matter what kind of headphone/earphone you use. It is important to do everything in moderation.
Earphones — hearing loss and more
“Apart from hearing loss, earphones often become a nuisance for many. People tend to talk more loudly and also do not concentrate when they are doing some work or perhaps crossing the road. This could be dangerous,” says Dr Sajeet.
We all love a good song. A rainy day… Your favourite song playing…. life just can’t get better! A little care and caution can make this perfect scenario what you always want it to be…Perfect!