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Video gamers may be putting their hearing at risk

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Are you a gamer? Researchers say loud games may be putting you at risk of developing tinnitus – a ringing, roaring or buzzing in the ears – and even permanent hearing loss.

After reviewing research from nine countries, a team of researchers found that the nearly 54,000 participants played video games for an average of three hours a week. Five of the studies showed links between gaming and hearing problems such as tinnitus. One of the studies found that the average sound level for four shooter games was 85.6-91.2 decibels, while the average sound level of a racing game was 85.6 decibels.

The researchers note that the permissible noise level for kids is 75 decibels over 40 hours a week. “Children can therefore safely listen to an 83 dB sound for around 6.5 hours, 86 dB for around 3.25 hours, 92 dB for 45 minutes and 98 dB for only 12 minutes a week,” they add.

Although the data provided in the review was limited, the researchers believe “some gamers, particularly those who play frequently and at or above the average sound levels described by papers included in this review, probably exceed permissible sound exposure limits and are thus engaging in unsafe listening practices, which could put them at risk for developing permanent hearing loss and/or tinnitus.”

The study was published online in the journal BMJ Public Health.

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