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NYC Ad Campaign Aims To Cut Volume On Headphones

Loud Music Can Lead To Hearing Loss, Health Officials Warn
New York City Health Department ads about the dangers of loud headphone use. (credit: NYC Health Department)

New York City Health Department ads about the dangers of loud headphone use. (credit: NYC Health Department)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Blaring your headphones can cause irreversible hearing loss, city officials warn in a new ad campaign.

The subway ads by the Health Department show two photos — one of an ear with an earbud and another with an ear with a hearing aid — and the slogan “Hear today. Gone tomorrow.”

Loud sounds, including music played at a high volume, can injure the delicate hair-like cells of the inner ear that convert sound wave into the sounds people hear. The injured cells cannot be repaired, experts said.

“We’re calling people’s attention specifically to the risks of using headphones for causing hearing problems down the line,” city Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley told WCBS 880. “You can have a partial hearing loss. You can have tinnitus, which causes a ringing in the ear, which is very annoying. Or you can have complete deafness.”

Nearly 1 in 4 adults 18 to 44 years old who report heavy headphone use say they have experienced hearing problems, and they were more than twice as likely to report hearing loss than those who report light to moderate or no use of headphones, according to a Health Department news release.

“Nearly half of New Yorkers use headphones, and some people use them for many hours a day at very loud problems,” Farley said. “About 5 percent of people are using them enough where we think it’s dangerous to their hearing.”

City officials recommend people protect their hearing when using headphones by reducing the volume; not turning up the volume to drown out other noises; limiting listening time; and recognizing the early signs of hearing loss — such as having trouble hearing a conversation, needing to turn up the volumes on their TV or radio and experiencing ringing in their ears — and then asking a doctor for a hearing test.

“It’s not the type of headphone that’s important,” Farley said. “It’s the volume that you listen at and how long you listen at that volume.”

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