by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
Hearing loss among younger people is reaching alarming proportions. Here are some excerpts of a recent report out of Mexico showing the conditions there—and we here in the USA are probably not all that much different—at least in regards to excessive noise.
The report begins:
The excessive noise found in the main cities of Mexico and the improper use of certain antibiotics are seen as the main reasons for an increase in the number of hearing impaired Mexicans…
A study carried out in a suburban area of Mexico City measured the noise levels in two schools, two manufacturing plants, a shopping center and a block of flats. Researchers found noise levels between 90 and 100 dB. (1)
Sustained sounds above 80 dB are believed to cause hearing loss, and these sound levels are much higher. Remember each 10 dB increase represents a tenfold increase in sound pressure.
The report continues:
135 subjects aged between 15 and 49 years were screened for hearing disorders. Researchers found that 35% of the participants suffered from severe hearing damage. Surprisingly, the group aged between 15 and 29 years was more severely affected by hearing damage.
Researchers concluded that the higher incidence in the youngest group may be due to unrestrained use of personal stereos. More and more people try to drown out the background noise by listening to music on their MP3 players, thus increasing their risk of suffering from hearing loss.
In addition to noise, the misuse of ototoxic antibiotics is another factor causing this hearing loss epidemic. Unfortunately, most antibiotics are ototoxic to some degree, while the Aminoglycoside class of antibiotics is extremely ototoxic. Adding to this problem is the fact that such highly-ototoxic antibiotics are often readily available in developing countries. Mexico is no different. “Unfortunately, any adult can obtain antibiotics without medical prescription in Mexico.”
One thing this report doesn’t mention is that when you combine noise with certain ototoxic drugs, the resulting hearing loss is much worse that what would have been caused by either noise or drugs by themselves.
(1) Hear-it Press, January 31, 2008