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University of Pretoria produced first-of-its-kind hearing loss solution

The University of Pretoria (UP) has produced first-of-its-kind solution to encourage safe listening to prevent hearing loss on Wednesday. In the first study of its kind, researchers at UP have made headway in understanding the accuracy and reliability of sound-level monitoring earphones.

It also applies the effect of smartphone feedback, as an intervention to encourage safe listening use among young people. This innovative research could change the lives of millions of people by reducing the risk of hearing loss caused by personal audio systems.

Professor De Wet Swanepoel of UP’s Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, who led the study says, “This is an applied solution to the real-world problem of hearing loss for more than a billion young people at risk. This world-first technology includes high-quality earphones, with an in-ear microphone to measure personal sound exposure in a person’s ear canal,”

The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Ear and Hearing. Prof Swanepoel explains that the hearing solution is “Coupled with a tracking app that provides real-time feedback on sound levels when using the personal audio devices, dbTrack provides a first-of-its-kind solution for safe listening.”

More than a billion adolescents and young people are estimated to be at risk of acquiring recreational noise-induced hearing loss (RNIHL) because of the unsafe use of personal audio systems. RNIHL is preventable, and this research offers an important intervention to promote healthy listening behaviour. Prof Swanpoel further offered the following tips to protect ears:

“Listen to personal audio devices at a volume level below 60% of the maximum volume. Use carefully fitted and noise-cancelling headphones if possible. Wear earplugs in noisy venues. Move away from sources of loud sound, such as loudspeakers,”

“Take short listening breaks away from loud sounds. Limit the daily use of personal audio devices. Use smartphone apps and earphones like dbTrack to monitor your sound exposure. Choose devices with built-in safe-listening features.”

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