The New York City Health Department launched a new campaign to bring awareness to how loud New Yorkers are listening to music through headphones. Health Reporter Erin Billups filed the following report.
Some may see it as a last ditch effort of the so-called Bloomberg Nanny state, but City Health Commissioner Tom Farley says with their new subway ad campaign they're simply trying to raise awareness of a growing problem.
"Five percent of young adults 18 to 44, use their headphones five to seven days a week, for more than four hours a day, that’s enough to cause hearing problems,” said Farley.
Of those cranking up their headphones at that level, one in four is already reporting hearing loss.
Dr. Ronald Hoffman, director of the Ear Institute at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary walked us through what's really happening when we pump up the volume- too much.
"There are little cells inside your inner ear that have hairs on them, they're called hair cells. When the mechanical energy from the environment get's into your ear, those little hairs move," said Dr. Hoffman.
The hair cells convert that mechanical energy into electrical energy, which sends a signal to the brain, and you hear.
"What we know is that loud sound disrupts those hair cells, it actually destroys them and as a result you end up with a hearing loss,” said Dr. Hoffman.
Signs of hearing damage include a stuffy or clogged feeling in your ear.
Some hear ringing, humming or buzzing, it’s called tinnitus.
"We are recommending that if people have hearing problems that they go and get checked, use high volumes for shorter periods of time, take regular breaks, never listen at maximum volume and never put the volume up to drown out external noise, particularly on the subway,” said Farley.
Some may be thinking, sometimes my ears do ring or hurt, but they recover.
"You have a transient loss of hearing and it comes back, but what happens over time is transient drop, back; transient drop, almost back; transient drop, back a little less; transient drop, less even more, and at the end of the day your left with a permanent hearing loss,” said Dr. Hoffman.
So Hoffman suggests training ears to hear lower volumes.
"If you set the volume low, you’ll adapt to it,” he said.
The Health department also suggests using the volume limiting feature on your listening devices.