The UN and World Health Organization have warned that more than 900 million people will suffer hearing loss by 2050 with drastic action needed.

We all like to plug in and tune out of the world. Whether you’re on public transport or just walking around having your tunes in your ears is something we value. But they could be damaging our ears beyond return warn international officials.

The United Nations have issues a new report with guidelines to take action over the issue that over a billion 12-35 year olds face the risk of irreversible hearing loss. They blame exposure to loud sounds, particularly music played on smartphones, for having damaged ears.

Together with the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN want to resrict volume levels on audio devices such as smartphones and MP3 players to prevent hearing loss and conditions like tinnitus. Their recommendations involve monitoring how loud and how long people listen to music for.

A medical officer for the WHO, Dr Shelly Chadna says: “Over a billion young people are at risk of hearing loss simply by doing what they really enjoy doing a lot, which is listening regularly to music through their headphones over their devices.

“At the moment, we don’t really have anything solid other than our instinct to tell us: are we doing this right, or is this something that is going to lead to tinnitus and hearing loss a few years down the line?”

The World Health Organisation have been working in coordination with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) who warns that 50% of young people listen to unsafe levels of sound on smartphones and other devices. Chadha proposes an automatic volume reduction that would lower volume to a level that doesn’t cause harm to a persons ears when they go over the limit.

Dr Chadha explains: “Think of it like driving on a highway but without a speedometer in your car or a speed limit. And what we have proposed is that your smartphone comes fitted with a speedometer, with a measurement system that tells you how much sound you’re getting and tells you if you’re going over the limit.”

They explain that more than 1/20 people around the world suffer from some form of disabling hearing loss: 432 million adults and 34 million children. Hearing loss costs the global economy roughly $750 million according to the WHO.

Around half of all cases of hearing loss could be prevented through public health measures, WHO insists, its recommendations coming ahead of World Hearing Day on Sunday 3 March.