Tuesday, April 11, 2006

iPods and Hearing Loss

iPods and Hearing Loss

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- They're trendy, high-tech and everywhere you look. iPods have taken the country by storm, but they may also be taking us on the path to hearing loss. Here's how to safeguard your ears.

Walk around a college campus and you quickly notice a common trend. iPods are the cool thing to have.

Bethany Pendleton listens to her iPod at least an hour every day. "With the songs I have on now, I'm pretty jammin'," she says.

But that jammin' could come at a price. Like many audiologists, Katie Edmonds, Au.D., is seeing hearing loss develop at a younger age. And she fears the loud music kids listen to in iPods may be to blame.

"If they are in their teens, and this is something they are doing for the next few years, we'll see it before they hit their 20s," Dr. Edmonds, of All Children's Hospital in Tampa, Fla., tells Ivanhoe. She says exposure to loud music wears out the hair cells in the inner ear. These hair cells can recover after a few days, but repeated exposure weakens the cells, leading to hearing loss.

Dr. Edmonds adds that once the hearing is lost from noise exposure, it's permanent. But it's hard to convince college kids to be concerned now.

Emily Consolino is just that -- an college student who admits she's aware of her behavior. "I know what it's probably caused from if I have hearing problems when I'm older," she says. "I'll be like, 'Oh yeah, it was probably that iPod I was listening to.'"

One solution: The 60/60 rule. Listen no more than 60 minutes a day at 60-percent volume. Another rule: If you can't hear a person talking to you, it's too loud.

"Turn it down, and wear it longer, so you can enjoy it," Dr. Edmonds says, and you'll be sure to enjoy your hearing later in life.

Researchers are also concerned earbuds do more damage than earmuffs because they're inserted into the ear. Another solution is noise-canceling or sound-isolating earphones. They help block out background noise so people don't have to crank the volume up as high ... But they can cost several hundred dollars.

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/.

No comments: