March 01 at 07:30
Half of young people are showing early signs of hearing loss due to listening to "dangerously high" music on mobile phones and MP3 players, according to new research. A third of the population is now listening to loud music on devices up to twice the safe limit.
One-in-four is experiencing symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss but this is especially worrying for youngsters, with half aged 18 to 24 showing the early signs. The research among 1,003 adults was commissioned by Hidden Hearing to drive awareness for Hearing Awareness Week, which will see free hearing tests offered throughout the country from March 6 to 10. Hearing experts recommend that people follow the 60/60 rule when listening to music on personal devices. This means listening at levels up to 60pc of maximum volume for a total of 60 minutes a day. However, many of us listen to music on devices for almost two hours a day. A third listen at dangerous levels of over 100 decibels, the equivalent of a jet airplane taking-off or a rock concert. Lauren Mealy, a 22-year-old student from Cork, realised she had been "damaging" her hearing after continuously listening to blaring music. "I began noticing light ringing in my ears after listening to my earphones during the day. I listened to either headphones or earphones at the gym, when walking, shopping, at night to help me sleep and studying. "Audiologists carrying out an experiment asked me if they could test how loud my earphones were playing. "When they tested mine, they told me I had been listening at a level of 100 decibels and informed me that it should be a maximum of 60. "I've since learned that listening to music over 60 decibels and for over an hour is dangerous to my hearing, and could be a lot worse when I'm older." Dolores Madden, audiologist and marketing director with Hidden Hearing, said: "If you suffer ringing in the ears or buzzing after listening to loud music, that tells us that the damage is already done. "Our research paints a worrying picture for the long-term hearing health of younger people especially. "If you're listening with headphones and someone is talking to you in a normal voice at arm's length away, you should be able to hear them clearly."