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What did you say? I can't hear you!

April 26, 2007

Matthew Vasey, MD

There is quite a bit of information out there about the impact of industry related, noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). (1) To date, there are in fact health standards in place to protect those who work around loud noise. As you can see in this Benny Benassi Video "Satisfaction", the girls with the Masonry Drill, Heavy Duty Breaker, Dual Action Saw, Power Breakers and other heavy tools are all taking appropriate measures to protect their hearing.

Given the ubiquitous presence of the Ipod I thought I would take a look at the effects of music on noise-induced hearing loss. One reasonable study out there by Mostafapour et al. concluded that the majority of young users of personal listening devices are at low risk for substantive NIHL; however, although the risk is low, it is not zero.(3) It is important for people to know that any and all noise is a potential hazard to your hearing. Exercising a level of "common sense", or at least appreciating a middle level when it comes to a volume seems to be all that is required to prevent NIHL.

Employees of music clubs are another story as well as, rock musicians themselves. Studies have concluded that employees of music clubs are at substantial risk of developing NIHL. (2) There is one reported instance where base from a club speaker was reported to actually cause a primary spontaneous pneumothorax, or lung collapse! (4)


1. Clark WW, Bohne BA. The effects of noise on hearing and the ear. Med Times 1984; 112:17-22.
2. Gunderson E, Moline J, Catalano P. Risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss in employees of urban music clubs. American Journal of Industrial Medicine. 31(1):75-79. 1998.
3. Mostafapour, SP, Lahargoue, K, Gates, GA. Noise induced hearing loss in young adults: The role of personal listening devices and other sources of leisure noise. Laryngoscope 108(12) 1832-1839, 1998.
4. Noppen M, Verbanck S, Harvey J, Van Herreweghe R, Meysman M, Vincken W, Paiva M. Music: a new cause of primary spontaneious pneumothorax. Thorax 59:722-724, 2004. on Social Media