Two weeks ago, we took five very terrified young people to get their hearing tested by audiologist Saravanan Selanduray of Sunway Medical Centre’s Speech & Hearing Centre.
All five were guilty of exposing themselves (not in the way you’re probably imagining) to very loud sounds. As a result, they were very anxious about the state of their ears, and each one wholeheartedly believed they had some degree of hearing loss. Find out how bad/good their hearing actually was!
Danny New, 25
Profile: Danny is a guitarist for local band Reach For The Skies. He performs at gigs around town and is constantly exposed to loud music. He’s been worried about his hearing for some time now, which has fed his reluctance to see an audiologist. Time to face the music, Danny!
Verdict: Although Danny’s hearing is good, at the very high-frequency range, he needs it to be louder than normal to hear clearly. So in that sense, his hearing is not completely normal. This sort of high-frequency hearing loss is also not something you would expect to see in a 20-something, because it normally happens in your 50s or 60s.
Next course of action: Danny has to continue looking after his ears carefully, and wear musicians’ ear plugs and in-ear monitors that can help protect his ears.
Sameera Faruqi, 24
Profile: Sameera is a live sound engineer constantly exposed to deafening music. A few years ago, she actually suffered from a perforated eardrum after the speakers blew at an event she was at. She sought medical attention after but is worried about the lingering effects of that noise exposure.
Verdict: Sameera’s hearing registers as normal, so it has not been affected by the injury that she suffered earlier. She does have a slight dip in the 3,000 to 4,000 hertz region (where noise comes into play) so she is a bit at risk, especially as her job involves listening to loud music.
Next course of action: Sameera has to be very careful not to damage her ears, especially as she is constantly exposed to loud music through her work. If she takes pre-emptive measures, like taking lots of breaks in between listening to loud music and protecting her ears with ear plugs, she can stop her hearing from deteriorating.
Meliha Faizal, 20
Profile: Meliha is a jazz singer who is always at noisy bars. As she also frequents the party scene, her exposure to loud sounds is manifold. Meliha feels that her hearing isn’t as good as it could be and might have worsened since she started frequenting the club scene.
Verdict: Meliha’s exposure to loud sounds hasn’t affected her hearing so far, especially as she is only 20, but she will have to take care of her ears to prevent them from getting damaged. The reason Meliha’s hearing isn’t as clear as it should be is because she has a wax build-up which is causing a drop in her hearing.
Next course of action: Meliha should see an ENT specialist to either flush out or suction the wax block in her ears. After this, her hearing should improve. She should also minimise her exposure to loud music and take lots of breaks in between her sets.
Anusha Reddy, 25
Profile: Anusha listens to music on her earphones at maximum volume for hours. The music she listens to is so loud that family members say they can hear it even when the radio in the car is switched on. She feels like the hearing in her right ear might have worsened as she’s always telling people to speak up when her phone is against her right ear.
Verdict: Anusha’s hearing is completely normal in both ears, but Saravanan cautions that exposure to loud music may cause hearing loss in the long run.
Next course of action: She has to measure how loud the sound is on her headphones. If sound levels are less than 85Db, then her hearing should not be compromised, even if she’s listening to music for long periods of time. If it is higher than that, she should reduce the volume immediately.
Profile: Chris is a deejay and serial party-goer who is at clubs twice a week for work. As a deejay, his ears are constantly assailed by very loud music, which is why he is a high risk subject for hearing loss.
Verdict: Unfortunately, Chris already has mild hearing loss in his left ear. According to Saravanan, the one thing that’s certain is that noise exposure is a contributory factor in his hearing loss. The hearing loss itself is not very bad and the good news is, it was caught at a very, very early stage.
Next course of action: Chris will have to be very careful with his noise exposure and should avoid spending long periods of time in environments where sounds are very loud. A yearly hearing test is also recommended to keep track of his hearing loss.
Chris says: “I think I’ll go get my ears checked once a year from now on. I recommend everyone else in this line of work do the same thing.”