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Walkers and city noise: the real dangers

Walkers and city noise the real dangers

Dr. Gérald Fain, ENT Physician, explains the causes of the outbreak of disorders revealed during National Hearing Day.

Paris Match. This Day has just reviewed the risk behavior of adolescents. What are these conclusions? 
Dr. Gerald Fain. We discovered that the young people remained connected to their walkman on average one or two hours a day, it’s huge! It should be known that, after half an hour of exposure to loud sounds, the ear needs a sound rest of at least one hour. This harmful behavior alters the functioning of the auditory cells. Hearing is one of the most valuable senses: 40% of the information in our environment goes by the ear! Deafness disorders currently constitute the first social handicap: 7% of the population suffer from it.

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For which cells of the ear is noise too intense harmful? 
For the 16,000 cells of the inner ear (or cochlea); 3,000 of them can hear, others amplify the sound and select the frequencies. Too strong resonance results in hypersecretion of glutamate, a substance that, in excess, becomes toxic by altering the production of dopamine (a neurotransmitter of nerve impulses to the auditory nerve). Consequences: first a hearing fatigue with a hypersensitivity to noise, nervousness. Then,
what is more serious: a loss of hearing on high frequencies.

From which excess of exposure do these risks appear? 
It is considered that the noise starts to be harmful when it reaches 70 to 80 decibels (siren of ambulance, firefighters, jackhammer …). Beyond 80 decibels (discotheque, vacuum cleaner, strawberry dentist …), it becomes really traumatic and attacks cells whose most fragile are intended for high frequencies. In fact, there are three risk factors: the noise exposure time (beyond 80 decibels, it should not exceed thirty minutes), its intensity and its proximity.

In the face of these nuisances, are there more vulnerable people? 
Yes, and globally for four reasons. 1. A genetic predisposition (hearing cells can be more or less resistant to noise). 2. The existence of anterior ear pain, such as ear infections. 3. Toxic drugs for hearing, for prolonged use (aspirin, quinine, some antibiotics …). 4. The advance in time: with age, the cells that decode the high frequencies degrade which increases their fragility.

What are your tips for protecting yourself in everyday life? 
Do not hesitate to lower the intensity of music in a restaurant or disco, to plug your ears when needed, with your hands or ear plugs. To put in sound rest of one hour after a traumatic exposure. Adults must explain to young people the dangers that lie ahead, and advise them to halve the intensity of their walkman. In various trades, such as music, hearing impairments are now prevented by means of frequency filters. Hunters and some risk-conscious workers are now wearing noise-canceling helmets.

Should we have his hearing monitored as his sight? 
It is recommended that auditory functions be checked at different times in life. For example, every newborn baby should receive a first examination. Next, mothers are encouraged to have their children’s hearing assessed at ages 3, 6 and 15 years of age. From the age of 40, for the general population, the hearing must be subject to a routine examination and, if it is normal, postpone the next ten years. In certain circumstances, it is urgent to consult: in case of acute acoustic trauma resulting in sudden deafness, or an emotional shock causing hearing problems, for example.

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