Warning: Addiction to loud music, headphones might make you deaf

Lend an Ear

It is a common sight today, youngsters in public transport or strolling across the roads with headphones plugged into their ears, often to their own detriment.

Fatal accidents have been known to happen when many a youngster, his ears plugged to his music, failed to hear the warning parping of an approaching vehicle or train and succumbed to the mishap. Indeed, many are so addicted to listening to music  or talking through earphones that they do not remove their headphones for hours.

The situation is no better for those who are in occupations that demand them to use headphones regularly. Among the prolonged user of headphones are the call centre employees, radio jockeys, musicians, customer service executives and the regular mobile stereo users. It may be a cool way of functioning, but the headphone culture is not that healthy. Doctors believe that this may lead to ear infections by promoting the thriving of bacteria inside the ears. Worse is sharing and exchanging earphones which only facilitates bacteria transfer and can cause infection in the ear canal.

“Prolonged use of headphones is not healthy in the long run. Constant use of earphones makes it easier for bacteria  to breed inside the ear. Being electronic items they are hardly ever cleaned or washed, so when they are shared between people infections are also exchanged in that process. We often get youngsters complaining of pain in the ear which sometimes leads to bacterial infections,” says Dr Rajesh Bhardwaj, ENT Specialist, Columbia Asia Hospital, Gurgaon.

Dr Rajesh cautions, “Regular usage of headphones can not only cause hearing loss but also tinnitus, which is the regular buzzing sound and external ear infection also. The level of sound should be such that one should be able to listen to the other noises around them. It should not be more than 80 decibel, not more than eight hours a day or five days a week. This, we call the ‘safe industrial noise exposure’. Once the hearing loss becomes major, then it is not possible to cure it. So, it is best to avoid loud sounds or music. If someone is facing some kind of problem related to hearing then they must go for ‘audio gram’ which is tested with an audio metre to check the hearing capacity of a person.”

One victim of hearing loss is Deepshikha Sharma, a BPO employee who audits and monitors calls. “Because of the nature of my work I use headphones everyday and for long hours, and so I have now started having hearing issues. Once I even had infection inside my ear because of the fungus present in the headphones. Doctors have advised me for a hearing test now,” says Deepshikha.

Technology and new-age gadgets hold an allure for the GenX. New smart phones with funky features, applications, games and what-have-you by way of  technology, are being launched frequently. Not surprising then that the ‘must have’ quotient has somewhat contributed to the increase in usage of headphones.

Richa Sinha, a Std X student too complains about hearing issues. “I am really fond of listening to loud music and for the past two to three months, I have been facing hearing issues because of using headphones regularly. The doctor has given me ear drops and now I have stopped using headphones,” she says.

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