Jason Carr: We just learned something about headphones during the break, and now we’re going to educate you. We’d like to block the world out sometimes, a lot of the young people do that, but we could be causing hearing loss. Joining us this morning is Dr. Skreekant Cherukuri, and he is going to elucidate on the dangers of playing your music too loud. When you and I were younger, we had discmans, and walkmans, and what I remember about those is that they has the foam outer head phones. Those have changed.
Dr. Cherukuri: That’s right. Back in the day, the batteries didn’t last too long. They had to run the motor for the cassette or the CD, and they didn’t get that loud. But nowadays, with advances in technology, iPods, and other MP3 players, they can go all day. They can get up to 115 decibels, which is almost as loud as a rock concert, and some of the ear buds sit in your ear canal, much closer to the ear drum, which can get 7-9 decibels louder.
Jason Carr: We’re looking at a graphic right now. Thirty percent higher than it was in the 1980’s and 90’s. Some experts attribute this to increased use of headphones with teenagers. There’s some more interesting graphical information.
You and I both, it turns out, spent time DJ’ing in night clubs. In the DJ booth, you cue a record, I used to play records, by holding it up to your ear with your shoulder, and it had to be louder than the music in the club, so …
Dr. Cherukuri: That’s exactly right.
Jason Carr: …We both have permanent hearing loss in one of our ears.
Dr. Cherukuri: Yes, and it’s the left ear, in my case.
Jason Carr: Yeah, mine too.
Dr. Cherukuri: That’s a common DJ ear if you are right handed.
Jason Carr: If you’re used to doing that. It wasn’t that long. It was just a few years.
Dr. Cherukuri: Myself as well. The challenges you mentioned is the sound of the headphone has to be louder than the ambient sound. That also applies to people commuting on a train, for example, or even just ambient city noise. For example, a kid mowing the lawn, the lawn mower is at 95 decibels, if he’s playing headphones, he’s got to be much higher than that. At 115 decibels, which is the maximum output, you can get permanent damage in as little as 8-15 minutes.
Jason Carr: Eight to 15 minutes, and permanent hearing loss for life?
Dr. Cherukuri: Yeah, it’s gradual, but yes, it’s permanent.
Jason Carr: Is it true that human hearing peaks at, what is it, 9 years-old? Then it starts dropping off after that?
Dr. Cherukuri: That’s correct.
Jason Carr: Why is that?
Dr. Cherukuri: I’m not sure why the etiology. It could be accumulation of noise, but yes, children and babies can hear a much higher frequency than even teenagers or adults.
Jason Carr: Wow, it’s crazy. You see the commercial here, basically extolling the virtues of spending your entire life connected, wired up, canceling the world out. How do you combat this.
Dr. Cherukuri: All right, so a couple of things. We talk about the 60/60 rule, which is play it at 60 percent of maximum volume for 60 minutes, and then take a break. Ears that get a rest, are less likely to get damaged. Two, is on our website, mdhearingaid.com, we offer both headphones that are safe for children and teens, regardless of the MP3 player, they won’t go above 85 decibels, which is the safe level.
Jason Carr: Really, that’s one way of doing it.
Dr. Cherukuri: We also have ear plugs, high fidelity ear plugs. If you go to a concert, there’s a study that showed that almost 70 percent of teens leaving a concert had temporary threshold shift, which is a precursor to permanent hearing loss.
Jason Carr: Now, we’re looking at this model right here. There’s a lot going on.
Dr. Cherukuri: The main thing is, the in the ear headphones, in the canal, sit closer to the ear drum and can get much louder. I recommend over the ear earphones, especially if they are noise canceling, so they reduce ambient environmental noise and you don’t have to turn it up louder.
Jason Carr: It cancels the noise, so you are more able to hear what you’re trying to listen to without having to jack it way up.
Dr. Cherukuri: That’s exactly right.
Jason Carr: All right, what’s the website again?
Dr. Cherukuri: www.mdhearingaid.com
Jason Carr: Mdhearingaid.com if you want to purchase headphones that will keep your kids hearing intact and safe. I have a 4 year-old who is already making noise about, pun intended I guess, about having her own phone, and her own iPod and whatnot, so I want to protect her hearing. Good advice.
Dr. Cherukuri: Yeah.
Jason Carr: Dr. Skreekant Cherukuri, thank you for being here this morning.
Dr. Cherukuri: Thank you for having us.