CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — You might want to turn down the volume on your favorite song.
A new study finds more than one billion young people between the ages of 12 and 34 are at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe use of headphones and earbuds.
Going to loud concerts or events are also a threat.
“The inner ear and these microscopic hair cells, they can’t be regrown,” said Dr. Stephanie Sjoblad, a clinical audiologist with UNC Health.
Sjoblad typically sees patients in their fifties and sixties with hearing concerns but she hopes raising awareness about safe listening will prevent noise-induced hearing loss at an even younger age.
“Because what’s happening is that they will start experiencing the hearing loss that their grandparents have at a much younger age and participating in things will become increasingly difficult from a young age and this is preventable,” Sjoblad said.
According to the CDC, loudness is measured in what’s called decibels (dB). Over time, any sound that’s 85 decibels or higher can cause hearing loss — or other hearing problems, like tinnitus (a ringing sound in your ears that won’t go away). The louder a sound is, and the longer you listen to it, the more it can damage your hearing.
So, how do you know it’s time to turn down the volume?
“If you can’t follow a conversation with someone you are in the room with while you’re listening to what you’re listening too, it’s probably too loud,” Sjoblad said. “If someone else can hear what’s coming through your headphones, then it’s probably too loud because it’s escaping and they’re hearing it.”
It’s also important to stand away from loudspeakers and bring ear plugs if you plan to attend a concert, party or sporting event.
“You can still enjoy all your songs but you’re protecting your hearing for lifetime,” Sjoblad said.
Decibel meter apps are also available to download on your smartphone, which allow a person to determine whether the sound level is safe.