WHO: One billion young people risk hearing loss due to loud music.

One Billion Young People Risk Hearing Loss Due to Loud Music

One Billion Young People Risk Hearing Loss Due to Loud Music

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Feb. 28 2015 12:32 PM

One Billion Young People Risk Hearing Loss Due to Loud Music

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Turn it down, kid.

Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

Turn down the music. That’s the key message from the World Health Organization that claims 1.1 billion young people are at risk of hearing loss because of the music they listen to through their smartphones or personal audio devices. The WHO claims that its data demonstrates around half of those aged 12-35 in middle- and high-income countries are exposed to unsafe levels of sound through headphones. And around 40 percent are exposed to potentially damaging sound at entertainment venues.

“As they go about their daily lives doing what they enjoy, more and more young people are placing themselves at risk of hearing loss,” says Dr. Etienne Krug, WHO Director for the Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention. “They should be aware that once you lose your hearing, it won’t come back.”

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What can people do? The WHO explains:

Teenagers and young people can better protect their hearing by keeping the volume down on personal audio devices, wearing earplugs when visiting noisy venues, and using carefully fitted, and, if possible, noise-cancelling earphones/headphones. They can also limit the time spent engaged in noisy activities by taking short listening breaks and restricting the daily use of personal audio devices to less than one hour. With the help of smartphone apps, they can monitor safe listening levels. In addition they should heed the warning signs of hearing loss and get regular hearing check-ups.

The WHO estimates that around 360 million people across the world suffer from “moderate to profound hearing loss due to various causes.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.