Why Does Loud Music Cause Hearing Loss?

  • Tara Long
    Tara Long

Growing up, did your parents ever tell you to turn down the music because it would eventually cause hearing loss? Is there any truth to this? Tara is here to explain how loud noises can seriously harm your hearing!
Growing up, your parents probably nagged that if you sat too close to the TV you'd go blind and if you listened to loud music you'd go deaf. While the first was disproven, it turns out loud music actually can cause permanent effects to your hearing. So if you want to keep your hearing, you'd better listen up! Frontiers in Neuroanatomy published a study this week showing evidence that loud music can cause physical changes to our auditory nerves which can lead to hearing loss later in life, and maybe even difficulty understanding speech. This study specifically looked at the cellular mechanisms associated with hearing loss and tinnitus (the ringing of the ears) that are triggered by exposure to loud sounds. Previous research has shown that exposure to loud noises can cause a breakdown in myelin, which is the material that coats nerve cells (including our auditory nerves). Now typically, when you hear a sound, that sound gets transmitted to your brain, through a series of electrical signals that are jumping from one myelin domain to another. And that gap between domains, is called a Node of Ranvier. There are tiny gaps between the myelin sheath known as the Nodes of Ranvier. When your myelin breaks down, the Nodes of Ranvier get wider and, in turn, it becomes harder for that nerve to pass the signal along to your brain. The data modeling techniques employed in Neuroanatomy's new study confirms hearing loss is directly caused by the thinning of your myelin, and this brings us one step closer to being able to possibly fix hearing loss. Until then, it's probably a good idea to turn the music down a bit. Do any of you suffer from tinnitus? Have you noticed your hearing loss get worse with age? We'd love if you shared your experiences with us in the comments section below. Read More: ">http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fnana.2014.00073/abstract] (via Frontiers in Neuroanatomy) "Our previous study showed that exposure to loud sound leading to hearing loss elongated the auditory nerve (AN) nodes of Ranvier and triggered notable morphological changes at paranodes and juxtaparanodes."