The other day I was sitting in a class waiting for it to begin when a girl walked in with her headphones blasting music. Some classmates looked at each other with the “WTF” faces while others started dancing to the music as it was so loud. One kid even started playing his own music over it to create a “remix”. It got me thinking, how bad is listening to music on high levels- especially with headphones in.
According to Dr. James E. Foy who is an osteopathic pediatrician says that “Listening through headphones at a high volume for extended periods of time can result in lifelong hearing loss for children and teens. Even a mild hearing loss due to excessive noise could lead to developmental delays in speech and language.” This connection however was found through correlation, not an experiment. The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) reports that “Today, 1 in 5 teens
has some form of hearing loss – a rate about 30% higher than it was in the 1980s and 1990s – which many experts believe is due, in part, to the increased use of headphones”. This is an extremely high rate, and a scary one at that. Hearing loss has become more and more prevalent in kids ranging in ages from 6 to 19 according to a study done by Amanda Sue Niskar, RN, BSN, MPH; Stephanie M. Kieszak, MA, MPH; Alice Holmes, PhD, CCC-A; Emilio Esteban, DVM, MBA, PhD; Carol Rubin, DVM, MPH; Debra J. Brody, MPH.
“To be perceived, sounds must exert a shearing force on the stereocilia of the hair cells lining the basilar membrane of the cochlea. When excessive, this force can lead to cellular metabolic overload, cell damage and cell death. Noise-induced hearing loss therefore represents excessive “wear and tear” on the delicate inner ear structures.”
Meaning that the high volume which exerts a strong force breaks the stereocilia which is”organelles of hair cells, which respond to fluid motion in numerous types of animals for various functions, including hearing and balance”. So basically these tiny hairs have a huge impact on your hearing, and it is believed that high volume levels can lead to the destruction of these hairs. With this idea it makes a lot of sense that headphones could cause hearing damage, sounds at really high levels literally inserted in your ear, close to your eardrum, yeah that could definitely cause damage.
These conclusions to give us reason to believe that hearing loss in kids can be traced back to headphones. But these are only observational studies. Had Amanda Sue Niskar, RN, BSN, MPH; Stephanie M. Kieszak, MA, MPH; Alice Holmes, PhD, CCC-A; Emilio Esteban, DVM, MBA, PhD; Carol Rubin, DVM, MPH; Debra J. Brody, MPH done an experimental study and not an observational one, we would have a more definitive answer. Doing an experiment on these kids would be really unethical because you could be causing them harm. The American Academy of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery say that there is a recessive gene that has been linked to hearing loss. So if music was played really loudly in a child’s ear who had this recessive gene, the study would be speeding up how quickly this kid goes deaf! They could try and do an experiment with animals but how would we actually know if the animal is hearing something. You might think we could try with a dog or some type of animal that responds to a voice, but personally my dog likes to ignore me. He hears me perfectly fine (I know this because he will pick his head up and look right at me) but will completely ignore me (he then proceeds to almost roll his eyes and lay his head back down). So in general, it would be really hard to hold an ethical experiment of this.
Overall, I personally will be wary of my headphone volume, it’s not worth risking my health later in my life. Even though these studies point to a correlation between headphone volume levels and hearing loss, there is no solid proof. After finding this article, it really has me thinking, it’s not worth not being able to hear for the rest of my life.