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Ultra Hearing Loss

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What did you say? Sorry, I couldn’t hear that. What? You went to what? Ultra?

As most know, the Ultra Music Festival is an outdoor, electronic music festival that takes place annually in Miami, Florida. This year the festival was held over two weekends, from March 15-17 as well as March 22-24. The lineup included notable DJ’s David Guetta, Deadmau5, Tiesto, Hardwell, Afrojack, Calvin Harris, Avicii, Benny Benassi, and many more.

After 32 hours of fist pumping and beat dropping, one can definitely become physically and mentally exhausted. For some, the resulting drowsiness and fatigue is more visible than for others, yet most can see the exhaustion in people’s faces the day after. One long-term effect that isn’t visible, however, yet is more detrimental, is the hearing loss that comes from the extended exposure to this loud music.

Hearing loss occurs when the tiny hair cells in the inner ear get over stimulated and damaged from loud noise. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, one can safely listen to music at 85 decibels for eight hours. 85 decibels is equivalent to the sound of every day traffic.

Well, I know what you all are wondering…how loud is Ultra? Quoted in the Miami Herald, audiologist Cindy Simon used her sound level meter to track the decibel level outside of the festival. She measured the level to be around a whopping 93 decibels! Not even inside the concert! Measurements were then taken inside the concert by a Gulliver Prep junior, also quoted in the Miami Herald. The highest level was reportedly 115 decibels. I am certainly not a doctor, but if you were to listen to around 25 to 30 hours of music at 115 decibels, you would probably experience some sort of hearing damage in the future.

The Ultra Music Festival is obviously not the only factor  causing a dramatic increase in hearing loss for younger generations; headphones and ear buds also factor into the equation. When people use headphones and ear buds, they tend to turn the music up loud enough to tune everything else out. The headphones and ear buds create a seal around or inside the ear, and the sound energy directly travels into the ear. These increased levels and prolonged periods of time that teens use them cause damage that builds up over time.

I asked a few students who had attended Ultra as well as students who admit to listening to loud music whether knowing these facts would deter them from listening to this loud music. All said that it would not affect their decision.

Here’s the question: should there be limits on the amount of sound we are allowed to hear or warnings of the dangers of loud music? New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg started a $250,000 social media campaign to alert young people about the dangers of loud music on personal listening devices. Will this lead to a ban on large amounts of loud music, much like Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on large sodas (which was enacted to help decrease the potential for diabetes and other medical related illnesses caused by too much sugar)? This large soda ban was later overturned, however, because the judicial system felt that it violated people’s personal liberties. Do you think government should tell you how loud or how much sound you can listen to? Does this violate our personal freedoms? Let us know what you think! Email us at [email protected]

 

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