Health Watch -- Loud Movies

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

If you've spent this month catching up on the Best Picture nominees, your ears may pay the price.

Today's movie theaters come equipped with elaborate sound systems that make you feel like you're in the middle of the action. You can feel the rumble of hoofbeats and the roar of cannon fire, the sound is so intense. But doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say these high-decibel soundtracks blared through theater speakers could be hazardous to your hearing.

Going to see one loud movie won't do series damage, but if you're a regular moviegoer and are frequently exposed to these kinds of loud sounds frequently, hearing loss could result over time. Loud noise permanently damages the tiny hair cells in the ear. If enough of these cells are damaged, hearing loss is the result. Even children can be affected by exposure to loud noise. Noise is loud enough to cause damage when it's so loud you can't hold a normal conversation over the noise.


Feb. 2004