Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL)
Life is loud
Ask someone with hearing loss to think back on how it happened for them, and they’re likely to tell you about loud music and noise from their past decades – live concerts, motorsports, various machines, manufacturing, or military service. If you could ask the same questions of people who lived in the 19th century, they’d probably have similar answers.
Hearing loss is a pandemic
Hearing loss fits the definition of a pandemic – out of control for the last 240 years, since factories started burning fossil fuels at the start of the Industrial Revolution. Workers went deaf from the noise, life got louder and cities grew dramatically faster.
Life is louder than we think
Now, more than half the world’s population lives in cities, including about 80%, or 265 million Americans, the second highest urban population of any country.
Unfortunately, permanent hearing damage from noise has been largely ignored, growing worse along with the burgeoning urban population, becoming a seemingly intractable public health failure because it isn’t a fatal disease.
Frequently asked questions
It’s difficult to know if your use of earbuds or headphones is damaging your hearing. Consumer tech for sound level monitoring is just starting to appear on phones, which helps if you happen to be using earbuds or headphones calibrated with a phone. Otherwise, it’s virtually impossible to know if the combination of listening time and volume are within safe limits.
Consider using Soundbites if you’re concerned about avoiding potential hearing injury from any personal listening devices used for long periods or at loud volumes, including earbuds, headphones, or even hearing aids. But please think of Soundbites as preventive care insurance, and not as a free pass to take risks by turning up the volume.
Noise cancellation technology works well to reduce the loudness of noise entering the ear, making it easier for the brain to separate wanted signals from unwanted ones, which reduces strain on the auditory cortex. However, you’re right to be concerned. World noise is a major contributor to hearing loss, and the problem is increasing rapidly. Noise cancellation technologies can be very effective at reducing or blocking damaging noise levels, but it’s impractical to keep your ears plugged all the time with any kind of noise protection device. We encourage using hearing protection devices in addition to Soundbites because Soundbites works when not you’re not wearing hearing protection, and it provides an extra cushion of safety when you are. Soundbites is not intended to replace hearing protection devices, nor is it intended as a free pass to take risks with your hearing.
Unfortunately, it is increasingly normal to suffer hearing loss earlier in life today. So-called age-related hearing loss (ARHL) and noise-induced hearing loss, or NIHL, are biologically related, and it’s often difficult to tease the two apart. The evidence is clear: listening to loud music clearly contributes to NIHL, and increases the risk that ARHL will start at an earlier age.
But listening to loud music is not the only cause of NIHL. A majority of the world’s population now lives in cities, and cities are noisy, adding to the noise burden, so hearing loss is happening to many more people earlier in life. The U.S. is 80% urban, and it’s expected that 70 percent of the estimated world population of 10 billion will be urban by 2050. If trends continue without interventions like Soundbites, it's estimated that 25% of the world’s population will be hearing impaired, and 10%, or 1 billion people, will be functionally deaf within the next three decades.
That’s likely, according to numerous anecdotal case reports and independent clinical assessments, but there is no way to know in advance. Hearing function is affected by a wide variety of factors including your age, genetics, lifestyle, life quality, and nutrition. With certainty, we can say that at any age, Soundbites helps your hearing cells work the way they’re supposed to work, free of oxidative stress that compromises normal auditory function and damages hearing.
Independent clinical evidence indicates that improvement in hearing can be measured objectively by an audiologist within three months of taking Soundbites daily. You may perceive differences that accompany reduction of oxidative stress in a shorter time if your ears are under a high degree of oxidative stress, but we cannot predict that you will perceive any differences in your hearing or tinnitus symptoms, or improvement in your hearing sensitivity; there are too many variables.