B1 Intermediate US 467 Folder Collection
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- Look around the city and you'll notice the headphones.
Everyone wears them, usually for hours at a time.
And all our moms warn us, not to listen
to our headphones too loudly.
But how bad is it really for us to listen all day?
How much do I really need to worry about my ears?
So of course, our moms are right, it turns out
loud music damages your hearing but you likely
won't notice any tangible effects until it's too late.
In fact, any persistent noise effects your ears.
- Can headphones cause hearing loss?
Absolutely.
- That's Dr. Samantha Anne, an ENT who specializes
in pediatric care so if you're blasting music
or even podcasts all day long, you're going to
be putting your ears at risk.
And you can't fix hearing loss.
- Once you lose to hearing loss because of noise
exposure, there's no going back.
You don't repair it, there's no getting it back.
- I called Dr. John Oghalai, an ENT and chair at USC
to learn more about how we're all ruining our hearing.
- So you can damage the sensory hair cells in the inner ear
or you can damage the nerves.
The nerve that carries the sound from
the hair cell to the brain.
You know if you listen to sounds that are too loud,
then they die and as far as we know, they don't regenerate.
- You also probably won't even know you're damaging
your hearing because it often happens slowly and subtly.
Doctors often suggest a hearing test to establish
a baseline but I'm sure you haven't had a recent
hearing test, I definitely haven't.
The only real obvious sign of damage is once
you have ringing in your ears, aka, tinnitus.
That's not good because that means your hearing
has been significantly damaged.
Plus ringing is obviously super annoying.
Alright, so we're killing our baby ear hairs
and maybe damaging our nerve endings, fantastic.
But is all sound bad for us?
That can't be possible, right?
- If you're listening to a really loud sound,
the time you can listen to is less or if it's a medium
level sound, then you can listen to it much longer.
- He and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
have some concrete decibel recommendations.
If you listen to something at 85 decibels for example,
you can safely do so for eight hours.
This is like hearing a garbage disposal, blender
or dishwasher for eight hours, it's not so bad.
At 95 decibels, you only get four safe hours of listening.
That's slightly louder than
a motorcycle that's 25 feet away.
Imagine that for four hours, it's brutal.
You want to almost never hear a chainsaw
which can top out at 120 decibels.
Now I recognize that most of us
don't think in decibel levels.
I'm impressed if you do but if you're curious,
apps do exist to measure your decibel level outputs,
although, there are other ways to measure
your decibel outputs that are more abstract.
General guidelines keep it at a comfortable level.
Should not be heard around you.
And then if you take it off and you're hearing
ringing or the sound is a little bit muffled,
like when you come out of a huge concert, for example
and you have that little bit of ringing and muffled
sound for awhile, that's actually damage to the hearing.
Of course our headphones can effect this problem too.
Noise isolation, which is when our headphones block
out ambien sound because of the seal they create
can help reduce the need for louder music.
Noise cancellation, which are electronically counteracts
outside noise can help to.
The two taken together might make a big difference.
When used properly, to lower the levels of decibels
that you're playing, noise canceling headphones
are not a bad thing, they could be helpful.
Doctor Oghalai says regular old earbuds
might be the worst as does Dr. Anne.
The type of earbuds that kind of sit in the bowl
of your ear that you can still hear outside sounds
are probably in my mind, some of
the worst ones you could have.
Both agree that noise cancellation can help,
although, if you're using noise cancellation
as an excuse to tune everything out
and then turn up your music, don't do that.
That's really bad.
Okay, so I wanted to see how loudly I listened to music.
So we went out into the world to see how loud
New York City truly is.
We used a sound level meter to detect the outside
volume level and then looked at how I adjusted
my volume on my iPhone in turn.
We tested one over the ear pair, one noise canceling,
one noise isolating, Airpods, noise canceling
earbuds and on ear headphones.
The subway was super loud whenever trains were present
and sometimes even reached up to 100 decibels
but it wasn't too bad when there were
no trains in the station.
The outside city was about as loud as when there were
no subways in the stations but sometimes it did
get a little bit louder, like when an ambulance drove by.
And the office was always more or less silent.
Obviously, this all effected how loudly
I needed to turn up my music.
But all the headphones stuck to a clear pattern of use,
regardless of where I was.
I had to turn my regular, over the ear headphones
up the highest as well as my Airpods.
The noise isolating headphones and noise canceling
headphones really did a good job keeping external
sounds out which led me to keep the volume lower
than I had to with other pairs.
But even with these noise canceling and noise isolating
headphones, the subway station volume was nearly
double that of the office.
This all makes sense but as the doctors warned,
we could easily over do it with volume,
especially when the headphones are able to keep sounds out.
All we can do to take care of our ears is be mindful.
Maybe give up on your vanity and wear earplugs at concerts
because you never, ever want to hear that ringing.
If you're a parent, you can often set volume
controls for your kids so they don't
exceed a certain decibel level.
- It's okay to use the headphones but just
be smart about it, be sensible.
Dr. Oghalai thinks the future might actually
be bright when it comes to hearing loss.
Better headphone technology could reduce
the amount of damage we do.
It's actually gonna get better over our lifetimes
because I think headphones have gotten better.
If he has hope, so do I.
Hey, do you have anything you've been wondering about
related to tech and myths maybe?
Leave them in the comments below because
we're always looking for ideas.
Also, we just launched a new a verge science YouTube page
that you should absolutely go check out so go do that.
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You're probably damaging your ears. Stop!

467 Folder Collection
April Lu published on April 26, 2019    米勒 translated    Evangeline reviewed
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