Deafness - A Curse Of Modern Life Style


Exposure to loud music can cause degradation of auditory health in teens of either gender.

A recent study conducted by researchers concludes that exposure to high intensity noise created in places of entertainment such as clubs, concerts, movie theaters etc. may be harmful to auditory health. The increasing unprotected exposure to high intensity noise in these places may be at fault.

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A lead author Elisabeth Henderson, an M.D.- candidate in Harvard Medical School of Public Health in Boston has analyzed the situation. In her opinion the hearing loss in large number of male adolescents in 1980s and 1990s had more or less the same reason for causing deafness nowadays in adolescent men and women i.e. work hazards and fun.

There is a remarkable increase in the incidence of deafness in teenage females caused by noise exposure at entertainment premises such as blaring music club. The degradation in auditory function could also get developed from occupational hazards.

The occurrence of degradation of auditory function arising as a result of noise exposure at work places was common in young men. However, the reason could be attributed to occupational hazards rather than the entertainment related issues.

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The above stated facts also imply that the male adolescents are more likely to have auditory damage due to work related factors such as lawn mowers. However it may not be the sole reason as more and more young women are also becoming prey to this kind of hearing loss.

In order to find more facts on risk of hearing damage, audiometric tests were carried out. The examination was conducted on 4310 adolescents having the age range between 12 and 19 years. All of them also participated in National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.

The comparison between two time periods, 1994-1998 and 2005-2006 was done. In order to find causes of deafness, the study participants were specifically asked about their previous day's activities involving of use of headphones etc. The data generated revealed that exposure to loud noise through head phone had increased by a whooping 15% (from 20% in 1985-1995 to 35% in 2005-2006).

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However, the increased use of headphones cannot be attributed to hearing loss in teenage females. In 2005-2006 girls were thought to have a similar amount of exposure to the recreational noise hazards as boys. However hearing loss was less prevalent in girls as compared to boys. Therefore, the deafness cannot be attributed to hearing loss in adolescent females. This becomes evident from the fact that by 2005-2006 the girls had equal exposure to high intensity recreational noises which were not moderated by protection devices.

Therefore, it was concluded that the increased hearing loss in young females can be attributed to a factor which was not included in the study. The author concludes that in these studies the factor, viz. the cacophonous sound that is prevalent in the clubs and concerts, was not taken into consideration.

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It may be worthwhile to think about a probable solution of this growing menace of hearing loss among teenagers. The question arises what an average American teenager attending clubs/concerts should do to avoid the probable hearing loss. Referring to opinion expressed by Henderson, it may be suggested that the use of protection devices could be extremely beneficial and the best possible solution.

She further points out categorically that the performers in concerts, clubs use ear plugs to protect themselves.

She also recommends that the audience then should not refrain themselves from using the protectors. She further informs clear plugs when inserted in ear cavities are capable of restricting the harmful high intensity sound waves entering our auditory apparatus. Thus, it serves as a very reliable protection device. When it comes to protecting your ears while listening to headphones, she recommends that the teens should use the plugs which have sound blocking capabilities. The sound blockers restrict the entry of sound waves from outside environment so that he/she can listen to the favourite music without having to increase the volume of the music player.

Dr Donald. G. Keamy (a Boston-based surgeon at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmaryl) has however expressed a bit different opinion on these issues. In his opinion instruments such as iPods and players are definitely prime factors to study the deafness. However, he further points out that there have been other studies in which the auditory function of participants were checked before and after a concert. The findings were very interesting as it was noticed that there is transient loss of hearing soon after the concert which was found reversible. However, the complete loss of auditory function is not caused by few exposures to concert music, but because of repeated exposure. He also points out that the exposure to this deleterious sound can also occur from operating lawn mowers, hunting guns etc. So the problem is not confined to concerts or musical instruments but goes beyond that. Nevertheless the answer for the problem remains the same viz. the protectors.


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