Hearing loss among college students

Whether students are walking to class, driving to work, or attempting to do homework, they are usually blasting noise into their ears. If students are regularly venting to friends on their cell phones, blocking out noises with their iPods, or watching videos on Youtube they are also probably not allowing enough time for their ears to rest.

This type of constant noise exposure can cause permanent hearing loss and irreversible damage to the ears.

As a result of upgrades to batteries and music storage, today’s technology permits the youth to listen for longer periods of time. Consumers can listen to music for hours and choose between thousands upon thousands of songs, movies or books on their phones or mp3 players.

Pauline Tummino, the director of Student Health Services at St. John’s, explains that students on campus have not come in reporting issues concerning their hearing. However, she does find the common behaviors students practice every day hazardous to their health.

“Using cell phones, going to concerts, or using iPods could be unhealthy or dangerous,” said Tummino.

Brian Fligor, an audiologist at Children’s Hospital in Boston, claims that today’s youth listen to twice the amount of noise compared to prior generations. Fligor conducted another study among 200 New York college students and found more than half of the students listened to music at 85 decibels or louder – an equivalent to the noise of a lawn mower.

Cell phones and mp3 players are only a few of the culprits to young adults concerning hearing loss. Movie theatres, concerts, amusement parks and even restaurants are turning the notch up on the volume of their venues, only adding to the problem.

Not only has noise exposure become an environmental hazard but an issue of public health as well.

According to the 2007 article “A Little Bit Louder, Please” published by Newsweek, over 28 million Americans have some form of hearing loss varying from mild to severe. This number is expected to rise dramatically to 78 million by 2030.  

 “Many students don’t even think about hearing loss when they listen to music for long periods of time or are talking on cell phones for an extended time,” said Tummino. “Students don’t realize these actions may cause damage to the cochlea that has hair nerve cells and helps transmit sound impulses to the brain.”

Tummino urges students to seek guidance from an appropriate health care provider such as their physician or an audiologist who can test and evaluate their hearing if they have any concerns.

To avoid problems of hearing loss students must take minor steps towards prevention. Use noise-canceling headphones to eliminate background noise and throw away ear buds that intensify sound signals. Limit time on cell phones to short conversations and take advantage of texting and emailing.

From lowering the volume in the car, mp3 and phones, to staying away from the speakers or only staying for a limited time at noisy events, students should be proactive towards protecting their health