Turn Down That Noise, You'll Go Deaf - Who Knew Mom Was Right?


Lets get it out of the way, first thing.

We all listened to Janis, Iron Butterfly and Pink Floyd at ear splitting volumes on our over-the-ear headphones. Admit it. We all did it despite the warnings from parents that wed go deaf. Who knew? Mom was right.

Baby boomers are bringing their hearing problems with them, along with tennis elbow and Atari Thumb. Pete Townsend, the genius behind The Who, has spoken out against traumatic hearing loss caused by listening to music at levels designed to block out the world.

And the problem has only gotten worse, despite the efforts of many in the professional music community who warn their listeners about loud noise over a long period of time. There are consequences. Ever hear one of those sub-woofers in a car. They pump enough air to rattle the dishes in your house! Can you imagine what that thump-thump base line is doing to the drivers inner ears? And can you imagine the hearing problems that kid is going to have in 20 or 30 years?

Then there are those ubiquitous ear buds you see in the ears of teens and young adults everywhere. MP3 technology has made music more portable than ever before, making it possible to listen to your favorite tunes at noise levels above 120dB about the same sound level as a jet taking off. And you can listen to these tunes for hours. MP3 players store hundreds and even thousands of tunes, each one a potential assault on the physiology of the listeners ears. Were all going deaf listening to our music favorites. In the audiology industry its called "iPod ear."

Dont Say What?
The Starkey Hearing Foundation has launched its first-of-its-kind preemptive strike against unnecessary hearing loss caused by exposure to loud music. Called the Dont Say What? campaign, the information is being spread by sponsors of the program including USA Today and three-time Grammy winner, Trisha Yearwood. Leading audiologist, Dr. Gyl Kasewurm, provides the scientific perspective for this exciting and important project.

The campaign has two messages. The first is to avoid doing damage to the hearing system by listening to loud music for hours on end a message a lot of headbangers wish theyd learned back in the day.

The second aspect of the campaign is best summed up by Starkey Hearing Foundation spokesperson, Bill Austin.

Ive had the good fortune, Bill explained during a recent interview, through my work at Starkeyto really help a lot of people who have hearing problems and some of theseare well-known celebrities.

They know what its like to have a hearing problem, to have lost their hearing and they are willing to speak out about it. We want to promote the message that hearing loss isnt something to hide. It isnt something you need to be embarrassed about and these celebrities will show that, Mr. Austin explained.

Three-time Grammy winner, Trisha Yearwood, serves as a celebrity spokesperson for the Dont Say What? campaign. Ms. Yearwood has been actively involved with the Starkey Hearing Foundation for several years, even participating in missions to provide underprivileged children around the globe and in the U.S. with hearing aids. Bill Austin stated, She (Trisha Yearwood) is a great example of how we want to use some of our celebrity friends to help spread the word about hearing loss prevention and to increase awareness of the dangers of exposure to loud noises.

USA Today is making sure the word is spread by providing media exposure for the campaign. Americas newspaper is also developing an educational program that teaches youngsters the causes of hearing loss and the best ways to protect against hearing loss. This one-of-a-kind program will be distributed free to 30,000 elementary, middle and senior high schools and 400 universities in the U.S., ensuring increased awareness of avoidable hearing loss.

Dr. Gyl Kasewurm got involved with the promotion because of her professional work. Dr. Kasewurm, in the same interview with Starkeys Bill Austin, said, In my practice Ive worked with people of all different ages. And people dont think about the dangers when they put something in their ear and listen to music at varying loudness levels for a long period of timethat it can cause significant hearing loss.

Kasewurm went on to say, I love it when people say that iPods cause hearing loss. iPods dont cause hearing loss. Its the users of iPods that cause hearing loss.

When asked how to determine if the volume was pumped up too loud, Kasewurm warned, If your child is wearing earphones and you can hear the music three feet away, the [sound] level is way too loud.

Another measure to determine if the music is too loud: if you have to ask What? because you didnt hear the person sitting next to you, the music or other loud noise is too loud and is doing damage to your ears. Thats where the promotional campaign got its name: Dont Say What?

So, turn down your MP3 player a notch or two. Wear ear cups or ear plugs when you mow the lawn, or at work when noise levels are high.

Just remember: mom was right when she told you to turn down that noise or youll go deaf.

About the Starkey Hearing Foundation
The Starkey Hearing Foundation was established in 1973 by William F. Austin who took part in this interview. Each year, the Foundation conducts 150 missions around the globe giving away hearing aids and providing hearing health information.

Since 2000, the Starkey Hearing Foundation has helped more than 78,000 people around the world. Foundation workers have delivered more than 20,000 hearing aids each year from places in the U.S. all the way to Viet Nam. The work of the Foundation is sustained by thousands of volunteers and donors.

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