Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dying for your music

“Sorry, I didn’t hear you”, will be a phrase heard more often as the years pass. Since the conception of personal music players, currently known as iPods, or even iPhones, the state of our ears, thus our hearing has declined dramatically.

This not only affects our hearing, but also our speech, or even the ability to learn or even cross a busy road. If you can’t hear yourself speak, then it is likely that your speech will deteriorate with time, unless you are very aware that this is the case. If you can’t hear the teacher speak, then of course you will not be able to learn everything that is being covered in the course/lesson. If you are crossing at an unmarked crossing on the road, you may not hear a car, a bicycle or even an emergency vehicle and thus place yourself in danger, without even realizing it. Hearing loss can and will impact your life in ways you wouldn’t even think possible, until it is too late.

According to a recent large scale report from scientists of the European Commission examined the use of personal music players such as the iPod and they determined as many as 1 in 10 users of personal music players are at risk of suffer permanent hearing loss if they listen to a PMP at high levels more than one hour a day for five years.

The impact on understanding the world around you - Noise-induced hearing loss makes it difficult to understand what is being said in restaurants and other places with background noise. Conversations sound muffled, as if coming through a hotel room wall. It also becomes difficult to hear high-frequency, soft consonants, such as "s," "t," "f," "h" and the "sh" sound.

Imagine having a church bells ringing in your ears constantly – it may not be that loud – but from 2 blocks away, the sound is the same. That is called Tinnitus and while tinnitus may come and go for some, it’s constant for others and can be a particularly frustrating. Around half of those who suffer from it find their sleep is affected, which in turn can cause tiredness that both impacts their ability to work and the quality of their home life or even their social life and communication.

There is no cure – other than hearing aids, which although with new technology are now almost invisible. Imagine having to ‘plug into’ the world EVERY day for the rest of your life, just so you can hear your children speak.

There are others forms of hearing loss, most often industrial hearing loss, but with the implementation of OH&S policies, the incidence of this type of hearing loss is being greatly reduced.

Jeff Rich, former drummer of Status Quo, warned people against misguided over-confidence and against ignoring the scientific proof that loud noise causes hearing loss. He was unaware of this when he played in his band. As a result Rich has lost 70 percent of his hearing in his right ear and 50 percent in his left. He now requires hearing aids to function in society.

It is estimated that, one in eight children or young adolescents in the 6-19 year age group suffers from hearing loss caused by excessive noise. Once you lose part of your hearing, it is lost forever.
Remember – once the ability to hear clearly is no longer present, you may have trouble communicating with others, communicating with your employer or even doing your job at the required standard if your hearing is an important part of performing your job, for example answering the telephone.

Turn that iPod down, turn that stereo down and remember once your hearing has left the building, it will never return!


  1. I've got tinnitus and slight hearing loss and it's not from an ipod, it's from live music. I spent almost every weekend and a lot of my week nights as a youngster watching live bands. So I don't think it's the complete blame of the ipod, it's just loud music in general.

  2. Thanks Fen - I'm sorry to hear about that :( I couldn;t imagine.

    You are correct, it's not only Ipods and similiar, once upon a time it used to be industrial deafness, then live music (as I did comment on........ He was unaware of this when he played in his band. As a result Rich has lost 70 percent of his hearing in his right ear and 50 percent in his left) and now the most common risk, the iPod.

    Which is also causing deaths not because of hearing but because of peoples' ability to lose themselves in teh music whilst crossing the road and thus lose their life. There was a police report of stats released and something like 1 in 5 were distracted by recorded music when they were hit by cars in the CBD.
    Not very good statistics unfortunately

  3. No, not good stats at all. When I lived in Bentleigh there was a young girl who was hit and killed by a train. If I remember correctly she was listening to an mp3 player and didn't hear the express train coming along the 3rd track. Very sad indeed.

  4. Fen, thanks for coming back with that, and that unfortunately is where the title comes from - it's NOT JUST about hearing loss - but also loss of life :(

    Thanks for your input - I hope that your comments about hearing loss will help others see that loud music is not just a pleasure - it can also be a torment