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Earphones could cause deafness

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

The use of mobile phones has become virtually addictive and many people who own one would hardly want to leave it behind when they have to go anywhere.

Apart from reaching others wherever one might be, there are other additional services that these phones offer that have made them inseparable from their users.

The services include surfing the Internet, advertising using text message via the mobile, money transfer and listening to radio and also music.

But what is of prime importance here is the use of earphones by young people to listen to music via their mobile phones.

It is not uncommon to see many people even in public transport listening to the radio or enjoying music with their earphones.

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One problem is that when the earphones are inserted into the ears the person hardly hears anything that goes on around him or her.

An unfortunate incident happened a few years ago when a medical student of the University of Ghana was run over by a train.

She had earphones in the ear and could not hear the tooting sound of the train. It was really an unfortunate incident which could have been avoided.

Though the use of the earphone is to enhance communication, it has certain side effects especially on the ear.

In an interview with an audiologist of the HASSI Centre, Mr Moses A. Amihere, about the effects of the use of earphones, he cautioned students to desist from using it, since it could cause deafness.

He said the long-term use of earphones affects the nerves and cells in the inner ear known as the cochlea and could cause permanent damage to the ear depending on the duration and the loudness of the sound.                        

Mr Amihere further explained that the ear canal is an amplifying system that amplify sounds.

He said when one used the pointed ear piece of the earphone and tuned the sound to about 70 decibels (unit for measuring how loud a sound is), the ear  also amplified the sound to 20 decibels, which would increase the transmission of the sound  to 90 decibels which would be was too loud for the ear to contain.

Mr Amihere said for instance if a person operated a machine which produced about 90 decibels of sound after  work that person could not hear anything for about an hour, since the sound was too loud.

“When this happens for a long time it would gradually wear down the cells of the ear and clarity of speech is lost,” he added.

He noted that the outer area of the inner ear analyses high pitch sounds which are the consonants while the outer part of the ear analysis low pitch sounds which are the vowels.

 Mr Amihere said deafness starts with a ringing effect in the ear called tinnitus which sounds like the noise made by crickets or boiling water. This, he said, would be very irritating.

If one’s hearing was destroyed because of noise explosion one would not get his or her hearing restored, he pointed out. With the loss of hearing it would obviously be very difficult and impossible for children to study in the classroom and understand whatever the teacher teaches.

Mr Amihere pointed out that this situation could adversely affect one’s academic performance.

“The likely solution to this problem is to acquire a hearing aid, which does not work 100 per cent” depending on the severity of the loss of hearing,  he said.

He noted that  the ear was the last organ of the human body which continued to develop until age 15,  therefore, it must be fully be protected.

Mr Amihere,  therefore, recommended the bigger and flat earphones  rather than the pointed and small ones, since the pressure of the sound was diffused with the bigger earphones.   

Story by Hannah A. Amoah/Junior Graphic