Video Games ALERT: Global study issues warning on threats to hearing

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global-study-issues-warning(NaturalHealth365)  Those who grew up in the vibrant eras of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s fondly recall the dominance of loud rock and roll music in the cultural scene.  The echoes of rocking anthems blared through the headphones of yesteryear, leaving a trail of eardrums that might have endured the sonic onslaught.

Today’s cultural zeitgeist is characterized by video games.  Many are played online while wearing headphones.  Few youngsters are interested in loud jam sessions simply because addictive games are nearly ubiquitous.  A recent study published in BMJ Public Health highlights how seemingly harmless video game audio directly threatens hearing.

Loud video games sabotage more than social skills

There is a common misconception that the risk of video games is limited to screen addiction and anti-social behavior.  The worldwide study linked above reveals gamers face an elevated risk of hearing loss and the annoying ringing in the ears, known as tinnitus.  Though games are fun and sometimes forge social connections through online play, their audio levels put more than 10 million people at risk in the United States alone.

Video game consoles such as Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 5 pack a powerful audio punch, generating up to 119 decibels of sound.  Exposure to a mere 85 decibels of sound across a lengthy period has the potential to result in hearing loss.  As a point of comparison, push lawnmowers typically have a sound decibel output of 70-80 decibels.  Video games that generate 119 decibels, albeit in brief bursts, are as loud as motorcycles and dirt bikes.

Global study reveals alarming noise exposure among frequent gamers and potential risks to hearing health

The study results stem from a comprehensive analysis of 50,000 people worldwide.  Gamers from nine nations, including the United States, Australia, Europe, and beyond, were analyzed.  Those who played games at a high frequency or even an above-average level of frequency typically exceeded the safe threshold for noise exposure.

Sadly, such eardrum abuse puts those gamers at risk for lasting hearing loss and possibly even dreaded tinnitus.  Going cold turkey on video games is unthinkable for most teens and even some young adults.  However, there are reasonable steps gamers can take to minimize their exposure to loud audio from their favorite games.

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Tips to preserve your hearing while gaming

Instead of wearing headphones connected to handheld gaming consoles or a PC, play without a headset with the volume set at a reasonable level.  Resist the temptation to play loud video games for extended periods.  Take screen breaks every half hour to rest your eardrums.

Traditional over-the-ear headphones are safer than earbuds as they do not move sound waves directly toward the eardrums.  Put a post-it note by your gaming console or PC, serving as a reminder to clean your headphones/earbuds at least once each week to minimize dust mites, allergens, and other potentially harmful particles.

Invest in quality noise-canceling headphones to block out external noise.  This allows you to keep the volume at a safer level without sacrificing game audio clarity.  In addition, many games offer customizable audio settings.  Take advantage of these options to balance in-game sounds effectively without having to raise the overall volume.

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