Turn down the volume

For many college students, listening to music while doing everything from studying to running errands is a necessity.

Listening to music helps many students concentrate, yet there are consequences.

Repeated exposure to sound at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. An iPod cranked all the way up can go up to 120 decibels, according to CNN.

For perspective, listening to a song at 120 decibels is the equivalent to listening to an ambulance siren. A running lawnmower produces sound at 90 decibels, which is often met with cringes or earmuffs when operating for a few minutes. Listening to an ambulance siren all day long would give anyone a headache, yet when a favorite song is blaring through speakers, students often unwittingly sacrifice their physical comfort.

Chances are that the more students listen to their favorite music, the more they are inclined to pump up the volume, exposing the listener to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) or even permanent damage. Currently, 26 million adults have NIHL, according to CNN.

According to the National Institute of Health website, continuous exposure to loud noises causes damage to hair cells in the ear – a gradual process that results in hearing loss and tinnitus. Keeping noises below 85 decibels is a good way to avoid temporary or permanent damage to the ear and preventing hearing loss.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has reported that hearing loss in the U.S. has doubled in the past 30 years. There has also been a 5 percent increase in hearing loss in kids from the ages of 12 to 19, according to the American Medical Association.

Apart from the physical problems that result from hearing loss, there are social and emotional problems students should consider.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that even a small amount of hearing loss can have negative effects on speech, communication and social development. A recent study has also shown that students with mild or moderate hearing loss do not perform as well in school as students without any hearing loss.

Students should not jeopardize their college experience for a few moments of head banging.

The Deafness Research Foundation has cited that the louder the sound, the less time it takes before NIHL can occur. However, its research also indicated that sounds of less than 75 decibels, even after long exposure, are unlikely to cause hearing loss.

Zahira Babwani is a senior majoring in biomedical sciences.