Loud Music May Not Lead to Permanent Ear Damage

A study from researchers at the Callier Center for Communication Disorders at the University of Texas at Dallas may debunk the belief of "hidden hearing loss," which is likely to affect young adults who use headphones and attend loud concerts.

Dr. Colleen Le Prell, a professor of hearing science and head of the doctor of audiology program, is an author of the paper, which was recently published in Frontiers in Neuroscience.

During the study, Le Prell discovered that after attending a loud event, like a dance club or a music festival, study participants actually showed no change in neural function or the function of sensory hair cells in the inner ear.

"For the typical young person going to common recreational events, it suggests that they're not the primary group that's going to be at risk for damage," Le Prell said.

They recorded the amount of time spent at the event and how loud it was.

Researchers conducted pre- and post-exposure sessions to measure changes in the participants' hearing and speech abilities.

"One of the surprising findings from this study was that even the subjects who had extreme exposure — two subjects who went to a music festival with 16 hours of exposure at 101 to 103 dBA [A-weighted decibels], which is around 1,000 percent of the daily occupational noise limit — had only temporary changes on some functional tests, with no evidence of permanent pathology," Le Prell said.

She warns that while the current study did not link recreational noise exposure to injury, those with more noise exposure may be at risk for permanent damage.

She cautions anyone who notices a change in his or her hearing, such as muffled sounds or ringing in the ears, to use those signs as a warning and make safer listening choices, including use of hearing protection.

Contact Us