Are your music listening habits putting you in danger of hearing loss? According to a new study published by the BMJ Global Health Journal, the answer is probably yes.
The study entitled Prevalence and Global Estimates of Unsafe Listening Practices in Adolescents and Young Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis reviewed data from more than 19,000 young people aged 12 to 34 and found that about one in four voluntarily listened to music at unsafe decibel levels on their personal listening devices.
Unfortunately for live music fans, concertgoers did not fair any better. In fact, about half of those surveyed were exposed to dangerous decibel levels at live venues including arenas, theaters, and bars.
The study confirms a warning issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015 that roughly one billion young people are at potential risk of hearing loss from voluntary recreational noise exposure.
“Exposure to unsafe listening practices from voluntary use of [personal listening devices] and attendance at loud entertainment venues is highly prevalent in adolescents and young adults,” the study’s conclusion reads. “It is estimated that 0.67–1.35 billion adolescents and young adults worldwide could be at risk of hearing loss from exposure to unsafe listening practices.”
The conclusion goes on to suggest, “There is an urgent need for governments, industry and civil society to prioritize global hearing loss prevention by promoting safe listening practices.”
The study stops short of making concrete recommendations to protect listeners’ hearing but says, “WHO global standards, recommendations and toolkits are available to aid in the development and implementation of policy and public health initiatives to promote safe listening worldwide.”
For those wanting to protect their hearing, experts recommend listening at levels below 70 dB and using hearing protection like ear plugs in loud environments such as concerts.
Read the full study here, and take care of your ears.