ETSU audiology students help music lovers protect their hearing

Published 10:20 am Thursday, May 8, 2014

East Tennessee State University’s audiology program and the university’s chapter of the Student Academy of Audiology are helping to prevent noise-induced hearing loss caused by the high sound levels at local music venues.
Dr. Krisztina Johnson of ETSU’s Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology designed the project to educate those who visit area venues.
Johnson arranged with Dr. Robert Ghent, a research audiologist and manager for Howard Leight Acoustical Testing Laboratory, for the donation of 8,200 pairs of earplugs for the project.
Audiology students and ETSU staff placed jars of earplugs at local venues with loud music. In addition, they provided information about safe levels of noise and the potential damaging effects of excessive noise levels, along with contact information for the university audiology clinic. Students will check and replenish the jars periodically.
Approximately 40 million Americans suffer from hearing loss, and one-fourth of those cases are related to one-time noise exposure to loud sounds or repeated exposure to damaging levels of noise. Generally, loud music causes temporary hearing loss with recovery after a day or two. However, when music exceeds 100 decibels, permanent hearing damage may occur.
Hearing protection is particularly important because it is currently impossible to predict an individual’s susceptibility to noise damage. All noise-exposed individuals should protect their hearing when anticipating exposure to high sound levels, such as those in area clubs.
Wearing foam ear plugs provides a significant reduction in the high- and mid-frequencies. Listeners can still enjoy music, but at a safe loudness level.
The ETSU Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology maintains an audiology clinic at the Johnson City Community Health Center, 2151 Century Lane, and can be reached by calling 423-929-6902.

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