Yesterday, FoxNews.com reported that many of our young people may be risking deafness thanks to their iPod usage. Sadly, such reports are hardly anything new. Strollerderby ran a similar story which linked hearing loss to iPods a couple of months ago. But this latest one seems to paint an even more dire picture than before.
Hearing expert Peter Rabinowitz, a professor at Yale University, says that nearly 75% of people under the age of 30 play their iPods at 85 decibels or above. But given the fact many iPod users have headphones which fit inside the listener’s ears, that decibel level may even be higher — like closer to 120, which is the same volume level a jet engine emits during takeoff.
Rabinowitz cited a U.S. study which reported that 90% of young people use their iPods “for several hours a day at maximum volume.” He told the British Medical Journal that such use put them at risk for “noise-induced” hearing loss. Fellow hearing expert and former president of the American Academy of Audiology, Dr. Angela Loavenbruck, agrees.
“One hundred to 110 decibels of sound from your iPod is enough to damage hearing after less than an hour and a half of use.”
So what can be done? Loavenbruck recommends custom-made, noise-reducing earbuds. They can be ordered from an audiologist and are typically less expensive than some of the high-end headphones on today’s market. Since the custom-made earphones will fit into the listener’s ears better, outside noises, such as traffic, will be drowned out easier. This will permit the iPod user to enjoy music at more appropriate and safer decibel levels.
But other than that? There really are no good precautionary measures other than common sense. Loavenbruck warns that people should “never turn the volume on [their] iPod up to more than 60 or 70 percent of its maximum.”
She’s hoping that people under the age of 30 in particular will follow that advice. Otherwise, such folks may become a part of the new wave of young people whom audiologists are seeing more often than ever before — those who have experienced damage to their hearing which normally doesn’t occur until people reach their 40s and 50s.
Does your teen listen to his or her iPod at decibel levels which concern you?
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