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It is of­ten thought that listening to loud mu­sic on ear­phones and head­phones dam­ages hear­ing? How true is that?

KAVYANJALI KAUSHIK, LUCKNOW

To­day, one in five teens has some form of hear­ing loss— which is about 30 per cent higher than it was in the 1980s and 1990s. Many ex­perts be­lieve this is due, in part, to the in­creased use of head­phones. Listening through head­phones at a high vol­ume for an ex­tended pe­riod of time can re­sult in life­long hear­ing loss for chil­dren and teenagers. Even a mild hear­ing loss due to ex­ces­sive noise could lead to de­vel­op­men­tal de­lays in speech and lan­guage. Most MP3 play­ers to­day can pro­duce sounds up to 120 deci­bels, equiv­a­lent to the sound level at a rock con­cert. At that level, hear­ing loss can oc­cur af­ter only about an hour and fif­teen min­utes. As a rule of thumb, you should only use MP3 de­vices at lev­els up to 60 per cent of max­i­mum vol­ume for a to­tal of 60 min­utes a day. The louder the vol­ume, the shorter your du­ra­tion should be.

What is noise diet? How can that help and pro­tect your hear­ing from fu­ture prob­lems?

INDIRA R NAIR, BAN­GA­LORE Noise diet is a method of con­trol­ling the amount of noise or loud sound that a per­son is ex­posed to and lim­it­ing the time of ex­po­sure. This can be achieved by us­ing earplugs or ear­muffs, turn­ing down the vol­ume, detox­ing the ears by giv­ing them a 16-hour rest pe­riod af­ter two hours in loud en­vi­ron­ments such as clubs or dis­cos, among other things.

What are some easy-to-fol­low mea­sures to en­sure safer and bet­ter listening on ear­phones?

KAVYA KATHPALIA, DELHI There are var­i­ous ways in which head­phones can be used safely and ef­fec­tively. Some of the things one can do to en­sure listening on ear­phones does not cause any dam­age to the ears is to use ear­phones plug type or head­phones, which seal out out­side sounds well so lower vol­umes, are re­quired; keep vol­umes at lev­els where out­side sounds can also be heard faintly and use high qual­ity record­ings which are ei­ther 256 kbps or of a higher res­o­lu­tion so that mu­sic is more de­tailed and re­quires. Dr Dil­lon Dsouza, Con­sul­tant ENT, Head and Neck Sur­geon, at­tached to Jaslok Hos­pi­tal, Breach Candy Hos­pi­tal and Desa’s Hos­pi­tal, Mum­bai

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