Over One Billion Young People Are at Risk of Hearing Loss from Listening to Loud Music, New Study Finds

Maybe that volume warning on your phone is there for a reason

BY Sydney BrasilPublished Nov 17, 2022

If you've been putting off investing in a good pair of earplugs for concerts, now might be a good time. A new study published by BMJ Global Health has found that over one billion young people are at risk of hearing loss from listening to loud music — both through personal listening devices and at "loud entertainment venues."

For the purposes of the study, "young people" are considered to be between 12 and 34 years old. The study found that between 23.81 percent and 48.20 percent of people in this age bracket engage in "unsafe listening habits," which were measured by tracking the intensity and duration of their "voluntary recreational noise exposure."

Most music consumed through personal listening devices by young people is done so through headphones at levels up to 105 decibels, while "loud entertainment venues" such as concerts, bars and clubs typically play music at 104 to 112 decibels.

By looking at these metrics, the study found that up to 1.35 billion young people are at risk of developing tinnitus and changes in hearing, and may even experience hearing loss later in life. 

"There is an urgent need for governments, industry and civil society to prioritize global hearing loss prevention by promoting safe listening practices," researchers said. "WHO global standards, recommendations and toolkits are available to aid in the development and implementation of policy and public health initiatives to promote safe listening worldwide."

To reduce the likelihood of hearing loss, the study recommends young people practice safer listening habits by listening to music at no more than 85 decibels for a maximum of 40 hours a week.

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