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It's happened to all of us - you walk past someone and you can hear every beat, riff and wail coming from their headphones. If you've ever wondered whether this could be damaging their hearing, the answer is yes.
In the past, noise-induced hearing loss typically affected industrial workers because they experienced prolonged exposure to excessive levels of noise with limited or non-existent protective equipment.
There are now strict limits on occupational noise exposure and many medicolegal claims have been filed as a result of regulation.
But the ubiquitous use of personal music players has radically increased our recreational noise exposure, and research suggests there may be some cause for concern.
The problem is not just limited to children and teenagers either; adults listen to loud music too. According to the World Health Organization hearing loss is already one of the leading causes of disability in adults globally, and noise-induced hearing loss is its second-largest cause.
In Australia, hearing loss is a big public health issue, affecting one in six people and costing taxpayers over A$12 billion annually for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation.
Some smartphones and personal music players can reach up to 115 decibels (roughly equivalent to the sound of a chainsaw). At this level, it can take less than a minute before permanent damage is done to your hearing.