Evil buds: Your earphones may be making you deaf, says WHO


The music you love to listen to could be making you deaf, thanks to your earphones. And, you are especially vulnerable if you are in the 12-35 age group. These are the conclusions of a report from the World Health Organisation (WHO), that are set to go viral again in a few days’ time, thanks to International Ear Care Day, which is coming up on March 3.

The WHO report had estimated that 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss thanks to the unsafe use of earphones. The report had been released in 2015. But its importance, pardon the turn of phrase, still rings true.

Our earphones have been getting ‘better’ each year. There are extra-loud earphones, extra-bass earphones and single drivers and double drivers. But loud may not be better, according to the studies that the global medical body carried out. In fact, WHO says you can actually experience partial deafness if you listen to music on your earphones at a high volume for just one hour.

The problem is not the music or the earphones, but the high volume at which most of us have become used to listening to music. Hearing loss can occur if you are listening to music at 85 decibels for an hour, or 100 decibels for 15 minutes. And most of the earphones of the markets today can put out well in excess of 120 decibles.

The problem is so severe, WHO deals with it as part of its Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention. Pay special attention to the ‘Disability’ and ‘Injury Prevention’ parts of the department’s name.

“As they go about their daily lives doing what they enjoy, more and more young people are placing themselves at risk of hearing loss,” notes Dr Etienne Krug, WHO’s Director of 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. Taking simple preventive actions will allow people to continue to enjoy themselves without putting their hearing at risk.”

So, it may not be Beyonce who makes you deaf with her music, or Dr Dre with his earphone company. It is your choice of listening to music at too loud a volume that could drive your body to deafness. The volume rocker is in your hands.

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