AMA Issues Report Calling for Health Education Messages such as the Academy's “Turn It to the Left” Campaign to Combat NIHL Public Health Risk
(June 20, 2008 - Reston, Virginia) - At their annual House of Delegates (HOD) meeting held June 14-18, 2008, the American Medical Association (AMA) approved a report recognizing the importance of promoting a health education message, such as the Academy’s “Turn It to the Left” campaign, to alert in-ear headphones users that listening to music at high volume and for long durations may damage hearing. The report, issued by the AMA Council on Science and Public Health, provides a number of recommendations based on previous testimony provided by the Academy and cites the research of Academy member Brian Fligor, ScD, an expert in the study of noise-induced hearing loss.
Previously at the 2007 Annual HOD Meeting, testimony provided by the Academy along with the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA), resulted in the AMA referring consideration of a policy resolution calling for the establishment of regulations that would limit the output of portable musical devices, citing further study to better clarify medical and regulatory issues and concerns related to the use of in-ear headphones in portable musical devices. On behalf of the Academy, Dr. Fligor submitted testimony to the AMA at the time calling for further study of hearing loss associated with exposure to excessive noise levels from in-ear headphones. The Academy recommended modifications to the original resolution calling for advocacy efforts to be focused on the prevention of hearing loss from misuse of portable music players.
In Dr. Fligor’s remarks, he stated, “The American Academy of Audiology with the support of the National Hearing Conservation Association, recommends advocacy for the prevention of hearing loss from misuse of portable music players by:
- Encouraging technological interventions that address risk for noise-induced hearing loss by monitoring (or minimizing) the integration of sound level over time.
- Targeting education to young people to be able to recognize the risks of hazardous sound exposures, understanding how hearing may be damaged by hazardous sound levels, and learning the effective strategies for the prevention of noise-induced hearing loss.
- Advocating for national public health campaigns addressing the broader issue of prevention of noise-induced hearing loss.”
The recently released report reflected those recommendations provided in the Academy's comments.
Specifically, the report recognized that theoretically, current portable music devices produce maximum sound levels that can damage hearing and lead to permanent hearing loss. In addition, in-ear headphones produce sound at substantially greater levels than do over-the-ear models. It is not clear, however, if the combination of high-output portable music devices and in-ear headphones causes long-term hearing loss. Although some laboratory and epidemiological data suggest a link between temporary noise-induced hearing loss and listening devices, this relationship is not as well established for in-ear headphones. The rising popularity of portable music devices and in-ear headphones, however, raises the question of how to address the potential public health risk of noise-induced hearing loss. The AMA report offered that the most expedient approach is to promote a health education message (such as the Academy's Turn It to the Left campaign) to alert users that listening to music at high volume and for long durations may permanently damage hearing. Although national guidelines do not exist, the report cited Dr. Fligor’s research that provides a set of recommendations based on scientific information for maximum listening times per day for in-ear headphones to prevent noise-induced hearing loss.
For more information on the prevention of noise-induced hearing loss related to in-ear headphones, visit www.TurnIttotheLeft.com.