Faizel Patel – 03/05/2021
In the first study of its kind, researchers at the University of Pretoria (UP) have made headway in understanding the accuracy and reliability of sound-level monitoring earphones and the effect of smartphone feedback, as an intervention to encourage safe listening use among young people.
This innovative research could change the lives of millions of people.
Speaking to Radio Islam, Professor De Wet Swanepoel of UP’s Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, who led the peer-reviewed study published in Ear and Hearing says safe listening is a major priority by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Professor Swanepoel says there is a lot of research and work done to look at what is the risk and of the continual use of earphones and personal listening devices, especially on the youth of the world on potential hearing loss.
“They’ve highlighted the fact that there’s about 1.1 billion youngsters between the ages of around 12 to 35-years-old at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices with these devices.”
Professor Swanepoel says they have developed earphone technology that can measure the level of sound exposure in the ear canal in real time.
“That links with an application that tells you about how loud this is, how long you have left to listen at a safe level, do you need to adjust your volume and things like auto level adjustment as well to ensure safe listening. This is the first study that has actually investigated this in real listeners.”
Professor Swanepoel says hearing loss due to sound exposure is not something that happens right away.
He says mobile phone manufacturers have also taken measures to ensure their products are safe.
“The mobile manufactures have only recently been made aware of this risk. In fact, the WHO in partnership with the global standards organisation ITU have now developed a standard called the safe listening standard for mobile operators where they can utilise the standard to make their devices more compliant and safer for listeners.”
Professor Swanepoel says noise induced hearing loss is the second most common cause of hearing loss.
Listen to the interview with Professor De Wet Swanepoel