According to a 1995 World Health Assembly report, over 120 million people suffer from Noise Induced Hearing Loss worldwide. In Mumbai, there has been a 15 per cent rise in patients in recent years.
To combat this, in February, the city designated as many as 1,113 silent zones where honking is prohibited. Forty per cent of Greater Mumbai comes under this law. In the last few months, the traffic police booked 36,000 drivers for excessive honking in these zones.
Even as the city adopts new measures to reduce noise pollution, there is one area largely by citizens.. music. Listening to music music played via headphones on the diskman, walkman, mp3 or iPod is on the rise.. especially among the young crowd. The same holds true for house parties, pubs and even rock concerts. Result: hearing suffers irreparable damage.
“When you listen to music through headphone, the music directly pumps into the ears. Secondly, headphones or earphones eliminate the size of the outer ear and then it fits into the ear, which is also against nature,” says Dr Calvin D’Souza, ENT Surgeon.
Another hearing phenomenon more noticeable with headphones is a decreasing sensitivity to sound levels over time, as the ears adapt to loud sounds. The listener perceives a gradual drop in loudness though the volume control setting hasn't changed resulting in listeners turning up the volume to the point where hearing is at risk.
“Excessive exposure to loud noise can lead to hearing loss. Generally, this type of hearing loss is reversible (except in some cases of a sudden, very loud noise, such as an explosion). However, repeated exposure to loud noise can cause permanent damage and hearing loss. This condition is known as noise-induced hearing loss,” says Dr Kamal P, ENT doctor at Bandra.
“Music is my passion as well as profession. I also go into the depth of music whether it is of high decibel or low decibel. Because of this, my ears have become over sensitive and even a loud blaring car horn irritates me,” says Rajesh D’Souza, 34, DJ. Family physicians add that by preventing noise induced hearing loss, patients can actually reduce the impact of impaired hearing.