Good afternoon and welcome to another Tech 5 program.
We live in a culture of noise that predominates a great deal of our every day live. When I say ‘noise’, I am not referring to the crashing of waves on the windward side of our island; I am not referring to birds singing, or the joyful singing heard passing our many churches on a Saturday or Sunday morning. I am not talking about the type of easy listening music you hear on EEZEE Radio FM; I am talking about the type of high decibel, eardrum splitting Noise, with a capital “N” that caused Florida’s Michael Dunn, 47, to lose control and shoot into a car full of teenagers after an argument over what he called their “thug music”.
I’m talking about the high end stereo equipment installed in many of today’s cars and vans blaring heavy bass and music (by any other name) that can be heard as they approach from a ½ mile away. I’m talking about music blaring from bars and concerts at all hours of the day and night, preventing area residents, including infants, seniors and people who are ill from getting much needed sleep.
Not only is this type of noise offensive, it can cause serious hearing loss.
Noise induced hearing loss is a permanent hearing impairment resulting from prolonged exposure to high levels of noise. One in 10 Americans has a hearing loss that affects his or her ability to understand normal speech. Excessive noise exposure is the most common cause of hearing loss. The National Institute of Health reports that about 15 percent of Americans aged 20 to 69 have high frequency hearing loss related to leisure activities. Scientific studies suggests that loud rock music along with increased use of portable radios with earphones may be responsible for this phenomenon.
The inner part of the ear contains tiny hair cells (nerve endings).
- The hair cells change sound into electric signals.
- Then nerves carry these signals to the brain, which recognizes sound.
- These tiny hair cells are easily damaged by loud sounds.
When noise is too loud, it begins to kill cells in the inner ear. As the exposure time to loud noise increases, more and more hair cells are destroyed. As the number of hair cells decreases, so does your hearing. Currently, there is no way to restore life to dead hair cells; the damage is permanent and the longer you are exposed to a loud noise, the more damaging it may be.
St. Vincent has many cars and vans with those thumping boom-boom subwoofers. I even saw one car with a bumper sticker that read, “If you think this is too loud, you’re too old.” For some young consumers, ear-splitting music is not just a taste, it’s a badge of belonging.
Why so many people want to hear punishingly loud music is an unanswered question. Is it the sheer intensity of the experience? Is it the coolness? One speculation holds that loud music at dances saves kids from having to make clever conversation – they need merely show up, look good, and twitch appropriately.
An obvious reason for teenage indifference is that the consequences often don’t show up for years. Hearing is usually lost in tiny increments. You don’t notice any problem until you’re already half deaf, at which point it’s too late.
And to make matters worse, loud music is everywhere, and exposure isn’t always a matter of choice.
If you think you have grown used to a loud noise, it probably has damaged your ears, and there is currently no treatment – no medicine, no surgery, not even a hearing aid, that truly corrects your hearing once it is damaged by noise.
The only thing you can do at this point is to protect what remaining hearing you have. There are a number of things you can do. While it may seem silly and obvious to point this out, usually the best way to prevent future injury from noise is to avoid exposure to noise! – If you have control over the noise stop doing it !
With a few simple changes to your listening habits, you can keep your ears healthy and prevent your chances of hearing loss in the future.
The risk of damage to your hearing when listening to music depends on:
- How loud the music is
- How close you may be to speakers
- How long and how often you are exposed to loud music
This is Ben Harrison from EEZEE Radio 91.1 AND 102.7 on your FM DIAL in St. Vincent and the Grenadines