It’s too loud

Recent research conducted in Sweden has suggested a link between loud noise and a specific type of brain tumor called an acoustic neuroma. According to the study, a lifetime of exposure to noise above the average level of city traffic, 80 decibels, can precipitate the formation of this kind of tumor, usually in individuals over the age of 50. The tumor is usually benign, though in extreme cases it can cause life-threatening inter-cranial pressure. Normally, it causes such undesired side effects as a constant ringing in your ears, poor balance and even deafness. While occurring in only about .01% of the U.S. general population, the tumor was found to be 1.4 times more likely in people exposed to screaming children and 1.7 times more likely after long term exposure to construction. However, the highest incidences of the tumor, 2.25 times more likely than normal, occur in people with a lifetime history of listening to loud music. Any musician or concert attendee can attest to the clangorous ringing that often follows an evening of heavily amplified music, and with almost everyone today hooked up to some kind of portable music player, the amount of time people spend listening to music at above prescribed volumes is huge. Although the findings do not directly prove that loud music causes the neuroma, it does show a connection. Colin G. Edwards, main author of the study and doctoral student at Ohio State University, cautioned against jumping to conclusions. “Our study is not proof that loud noise causes acoustic neuroma, but it suggests a possible link,” he said. “The results need to be confirmed in other studies.” While still up in the air, the study is enough to make you wonder about the likelihood of ringing in your ears that can last for days becoming a permanent fixture. “It’s not surprising that the longer that people are exposed to loud noise, the greater their chances become for developing the tumor," Edwards said. Luckily, ear protection can reduce the already small risk of developing the tumor by about half. Most music venues have earplugs available, providing an easy solution for those concerned about their chances of getting this rare tumor, or just want to avoid that annoying ring.