It’s not uncommon to see Florida A&M students wearing headphones on campus.
But many students don’t know that loud music can cause lasting hearing damage. Another worrying trend, researchers says, is that playing loud music through headphones can increase a person’s risk of being hurt.
According to the Archives of Internal Medicine, more than 48 million Americans over the age of 12 have trouble hearing in one or both ears. Researchers said loud music is partly to blame.
The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission began a study in Jan. 2004 the number of headphone-wearing, pedestrian related deaths, has increased from 16 in 2004-2005 to 47 in 2010-2011.
As the number of people using headphones increases another booming trend has been developing. Fifty-five percent of fatalities while wearing headphones were due to train collision.
In 2010, a 14-year-old Baltimore girl, Anne Marie Strickel, was hit from behind by an Amtrak train while wearing headphones. The volume of her MP3 player was too loud and Strickel was unable to hear the train that instantly killed her.
The girl’s death led to a case study composed of 116 cases conducted by Dr. Richard Lichenstein, director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine Research at the University of Maryland Hospital for Children in Baltimore.
According to Lichenstein, “The number of people killed or seriously injured as a result of not being aware of their surroundings because they were wearing headphones has tripled in the past six years.”
Students however are aware of the potential of distraction due to excessive volume. “I haven’t paid close attention to any specific changes, however, I will say that at times my iPod serves as a distraction,” says Crystal Williams, recent Florida A&M computer information systems graduate, from Rockledge, Fla.
Others say that their hearing loss is less pronounced although they still serve as distractions. “I have noticed a slight change,” said Ariel Bedford, a third-year Florida State chemical engineering student, from Atlanta. “Often times, people try to get my attention while I’m listening to my headphones, but are unsuccessful because of how high my volume is.”
Doctors and researchers say that the effects of hearing loss may not be noticeable immediately, but over time the irreversible damage to the ears can accumulate into a serious problem.
“It’s a must that I have things repeated for me…I have seen a change in my hearing and I wouldn’t doubt that it comes from the way I choose to listen to my iPod,” said Serreen Meki, a third-year master of business administration student from Memphis, Tenn.