Fox 32: Headphone Hearing Loss Now 30% Higher


Fox 32’s Corey McPherrin and Dr. Cherukuri discuss the effect headphones have on hearing loss

Corey McPherrin: …Because they play the music just too loud, rates of hearing loss about 30% higher than it was in the ’80s and ’90s, and joining us right now is Dr. Sreekant Cherukuri to talk about why 1 in 6 teenagers at least will suffer some sort of hearing loss, and, Doctor, thanks for coming in.

Dr. Cherukuri: Thanks for having me.

Corey McPherrin: We appreciate it. I’m really curious to discover, or curious about this because I didn’t think … We listened to music really loudly back in the day but it’s much more of an issue today. Why is that?

Dr. Cherukuri: Back in the day when you listened to music loudly it was probably at a concert.

Corey McPherrin: Right, or with big speakers in your dorm room or your apartment or something like that.

Dr. Cherukuri: Big speakers.

Corey McPherrin: But not in your ear, right? Is that the difference?

Dr. Cherukuri: Right. The other thing is in the ’80s and ’90s the Walkmans and the headphones were over the ear and on this diagram for example, the receiver was here far away from the eardrum. Now the ear buds go in the ear canal much closer to the eardrum. They get much louder. The battery life of the iPhones and the iPods are much better and the decibel level they can get, the loudness, is up to 115 decibels at maximum volume, which can be hearing loss in as little as 6 to 15 minutes.

Corey McPherrin: Wow. What is your experience in terms of dealing with folks who are having issues? Do you see a lot of it or what are you seeing out there right now?

Dr. Cherukuri: We don’t see a lot of it in the clinic because it’s light or mild hearing loss but the studies have shown that compared to even 1 decade ago it’s 1 in 5 teenagers has a hearing loss.

Corey McPherrin: 1 in 5.

Dr. Cherukuri: It used to be 1 in 7 …

Corey McPherrin: Okay.

Dr. Cherukuri: … so we are seeing a significant increase in the number.

Corey McPherrin: What do you want tell, especially parents out there and they’ve got kids who listen to all kinds of music with the earpieces in? What do you want to tell them?

Dr. Cherukuri: The main thing, we call it the 60/60 rule.

Corey McPherrin: Okay.

Dr. Cherukuri: 60% of maximum volume for 60 minutes and then take a break, let your ears get a rest, and you won’t damage your hearing.

Corey McPherrin: Really?

Dr. Cherukuri: If it’s at maximum volume, if someone outside away from the headphone can hear it, there’s really a risk of permanent nerve-related hearing loss.

Corey McPherrin: Is that one test, if you can hear your kids’ music coming out of their ears over then you know it’s too loud? Is that the deal?

Dr. Cherukuri: That’s a very good rule of thumb, yes.

Corey McPherrin: It’s a good way to look at it. Right. Wow. What sort of treatments are there right now for folks who suffer from … There really isn’t much you can do, right?

Dr. Cherukuri: It’s permanent hearing loss and so traditionally as they get older and into the 30s, 40s, 50s, they might notice hearing loss at work or in the home. Traditionally the only treatment is a hearing aid. Hearing aids we traditionally think of as big bulky things behind the ear.

Corey McPherrin: Sure.

Dr. Cherukuri: Here at MDHearingAid, which is a company I started, we have developed much more cost-effective and high-tech hearing aids.

Corey McPherrin: Okay. That’s good to know. Then one more thing I want to ask you too, I suppose sometimes people have a hard time discerning how much hearing loss they’ve suffered so are there certain giveaways, or how do you know for sure aside from going in and having it tested?

Dr. Cherukuri: Really it’s the family members or the colleagues that will be able to tell first.

Corey McPherrin: Yeah.

Dr. Cherukuri: It’s subtle. You might notice lip reading or people asking, “What did you say?”

Corey McPherrin: Over and over and again, right.

Dr. Cherukuri: Over and over again so really we would always empower the family members. If someone’s asking to repeat a lot of the TV’s too loud, get them in to a doctor, get a hearing test.

Corey McPherrin: Right.

Dr. Cherukuri: The sooner you treat the better the result, that’s for sure.

Corey McPherrin: Okay. If people want more information about hearing loss and the kind of projects you’re working on, where do they find more information?

Dr. Cherukuri: They can go to for a lot of real good information about hearing loss.

Corey McPherrin: Doctor, thanks for coming in.

Dr. Cherukuri: Thanks for having me.

Corey McPherrin: Appreciate it, good information. All right, we’re going to take a quick …