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Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) can be caused by continuous exposure to loud sounds over an extended period of time, including music played loudly on a personal music player.

The EU Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) has issued a warning that this is a serious health risk, and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) has issued new safety standards for music players and mobile-phones.

A recent academic study has reported an increase in hearing loss among groups that use portable music players extensively. Hearing loss in a sample of US adolescents, aged 12 to 19 years, increased significantly from 14.9% in the period 1988-1994, to 19.5% in the period 2005-2006.

A further study has revealed that listening to loud music through earphones can cause neurophysiological changes related to the clear discrimination of sounds, even if the hearing threshold is normal, as described in the abstract of the publication...

β€œOur conclusion is that extensive and inadequate usage of portable music players could cause subtle damages, which standard behavioural audiometric measures fail to detect in an early stage. However, these damages could lead to future irreversible hearing disorders, which would have a huge negative impact on the quality of life of those affected.”

One of the researchers, Dr Okamoto, subsequently stated: β€œIt would be better to suppress environmental noises by using devices such as noise cancellers instead of turning up the volume when enjoying a mobile music player in a noisy place.”

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