While rushing to class, students often grab their fully-charged iPods and mp3s. Not only do students listen to music while walking to class, but while commuting to campus or traveling to other destinations.
“In my case, I like the particular song and it’s kind of… is my little break, my little vacation since I don’t get one between classes,” said Avery Meister, criminal justice major. “So I can kind of put myself somewhere else for a little while”
Students tend to turn up their iPods or mp3s to the maximum level while having some type of earphone embedded in their ears. Some students who have vehicles tend to show off their sound systems by blasting different types of music that either rattles the hood of their trunk or the inside speakers of their vehicles with the windows rolled all the way down.
“I mean if I want to turn up my music I am going to turn up my music. I know it’s harmful for my hearing when I turn it up too loud, but sometimes you need to groove. You need to hear the music,” said Meister.
Students may or may not realize how loud their music is. However, some students do not have to turn their music all the way up just to enjoy it.
“I don’t turn it up all the way. I try to keep it kind of right in the middle. I try to have my settings on the actual iTunes lower, just mainly because I need my eardrum,” said Laura D’Eramo, music major. “Mainly the reason …I am a music major and we have to hear what we are playing and we have to be able to hear certain chords like intervals.”
According to the Kansas State University audiologist Robert Garcia, if someone is listening to music with headphones on and cannot hear the person talking next to him/her or if a neighbor can hear the music, that could be damaging to your hearing.
“Well your ears do try to warn you,” said Dr. D. Hand from the Lindale Medical Clinic. “If you go to a loud concert or you’ve been listening to loud music and you stop for awhile and you feel like you’re not hearing well or you may have a ringing in your ear.”
Hair cells in the inner ear are especially sensitive to sound.
“The sound wave comes in, vibrates against the drum, sends a message to the hair cells in the cochlea, kind of vibrates and then it transmits a message to your brain,” said Dr. Hand.
According to audiologists, exposing ears to excessive sound pressure can harm those small hair cells in ears. If harmed, those hair cells can lose the ability to transmit sound to the brain. As a result, one could experience noise induced hearing loss.
“What they think happens is that the little hair cells, the tiny fibers, that repetitive loud noise irritates them and damages them,” said Dr. Hand. “A good analogy is walking on grass. If you walk on it just occasionally, it pops back up. If you walk on it a lot, it gets trampled down. That’s what happens to your hair cells and that’s what causes the deafness.”
Decibels are used to measure sound levels heard by the ears. When referring to sound decibels, it is used to measure the amplitude of the sound wave. Decibels are used in measuring sound; they can represent the range of sound levels of the human ear that can be heard.
“Normal conversation is about 60 decibels. Now these iPods can go up to 110 or 120 and loud concerts go up 120 to 140 decibels. Decibels are how we measure sound. The higher it is, the louder it is,” said Dr. Hand.
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), ear bud style headphones are dangerous because they don’t block outside noise as well as headphones that fit over the ear. This results in you listening at volume levels that can damage hearing in as little as an hour and a half.
“The problem with iPods [is] they can go up to 110 and 120. Now, I was reading that in Europe they try to limit theirs so that it would not go over 100 decibels,” said Dr. Hand. “Actually there is a hearing, or ear bud, out there that kind of helps protect your ears because it won’t let you turn it up louder than 80 decibels, a safe range, no matter how much you try to turn it up.”
According to OSHA, to prevent hearing loss, the best solution is to wear ear protection such as ear plugs when attending loud musical events and keep headphones at a level where can still hear normal conversation above your music.