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

Dr Kara Hoffman graduated from UCT in 2004, thereafter she completed her year of community service in Durban. In 2010 she completed her Masters Degree in Paediatric Aural Rehabilitation from UKZN. In 2016, she became a Doctor of Audiology through the University of Arizona (ATSU). Dr Hoffman and her partner Lauren Thompson opened a fully diagnostic audiology practice called Thompson & Hoffman Audiology Inc. In 2011 with world-class technology and equipment to be able to offer the broad public all hearing-related services including hearing testing for adults and babies, vestibular (balance) assessments and rehabilitation, industrial audiology, hearing devices, central auditory processing assessments for school-aged children, school screening, neonatal hearing screening programmes at Alberlito and Parklands Hospital, cochlear implants and other implantable devices, medicolegal assessments and advanced electroacoustic assessments of hearing. Thompson and Hoffman Audiology Inc. are based at Alberlito Hospital in Ballito, St Augustines Hospital in Durban and at 345 Essenwood Road, Musgrave. The practices are all wheelchair friendly. There are three audiologists that practice from Thompson & Hoffman – including Dr Kara Hoffman, Lauren Thompson & Minette Lister. The practice boasts professional, highly qualified, and extensive diagnostic services where all your hearing healthcare needs can be met. The additional licensing in vestibular assessment and rehabilitation, paediatric rehabilitation and cochlear implantation places this practice in one of the top specialist audiological positions in South Africa, with a wealth of experience in all clinical areas of audiology and is a very well respected and sought-after practice.

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