International Ear Care Day is an initiative of the World Health Organisation that aims to raise awareness of ear and hearing care around the globe. It is held annually on 3 March, as the numbers 3/3 are representative of two ears.
Each year, International Ear Care Day addresses a specific hearing care theme. This year’s theme – ‘Make Listening Safe’ – was chosen to increase awareness of the growing problem of noise-induced hearing loss, especially among young people.
More than one billion teenagers and young people around the world are at serious risk of developing hearing loss due to unsafe listening behavioursAccording to data release by WHO, nearly half of 12-35 year olds in middle-income and high-income countries listen to dangerous levels of sound on devices like smartphones and MP3 players. Additionally, almost 40% of these young people are exposed to hazardous noise levels at entertainment venues like nightclubs, concerts and sporting stadiums.
“As they go about their daily lives doing what they enjoy, more and more young people are placing themselves at risk of hearing loss,” said WHO official Dr. Etienne Krug. “They should be aware that once you lose your hearing, it won’t come back.”
The WHO defines an acceptable level of noise for prolonged exposure as 85 decibels – roughly the volume of heavy city traffic. As volume increases, safe exposure duration falls steeply. For example, it is not safe to spend more than 15 minutes around noise levels of 100 decibels, which is typical for sporting events, clubs and bars.
Young people should protect their ears against hearing loss by wearing earplugs at noisy events. They should also keep the volume down on their personal audio devices, and try to limit use of these devices to fewer than 60 minutes per day.
For more tips on looking after hearing in noisy environments, click here.