Hearing management

Updated 13 December 2017

Listening to MP3 for too long is bad for your hearing

Not only can listening to loud music through your MP3 player damage your hearing but even lengthy listening at a moderate sound volume can be harmful.

Not only can listening to loud music through your MP3 player damage your hearing but even lengthy listening at a moderate sound volume can be harmful. That warning came from experts at the Medcare Hospital in Dubai as part of International Noise Awareness Day.

An individual's hearing can be permanently impaired when they listen to music at a moderate level over a period of hours. Listening to music at 90 decibels for eight hours will cause definite hearing loss, said audiologists in Dubai. Ninety decibels is the equivalent of a lawnmower or traffic on a busy highway.

The ear can withstand about eight hours of this sound pressure before cells in the inner ear begin to be damaged. For every five decibels above this, the listening time is halved, meaning you can only tolerate four hours exposure at 95 decibels and two hours at 100 decibels. The experts warned that instant and irreversible damage can be caused at 120 decibels and above.

The experts said MP3 players or similar appliances are safe to use with their volume set at 50 per cent. Music can be listened to for five hours at 60% of the player's volume before one's hearing can be damaged. At 90% of the volume, the time should be limited to just 10-15 minutes with regular rest periods so the ears can recover.

(Sapa, May 2011)


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Hearing Expert

Minette Lister graduated with a Bachelor of Communication Pathology (Audiology) from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville in 2015. Thereafter, she completed her compulsory year of community service at Phoenix Assessment and Therapy Centre in Durban. In 2017, Minette started working for Thompson and Hoffman Audiology Inc. She is passionate about working with children and adults to diagnose and manage hearing loss using state of the art technology. Minette offers hearing screening programmes for newborn and high-risk babies, as well as school-aged children, in order to decrease the incidence of late or unidentified hearing loss.

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