iPods, MP3 players and hearing loss

By Professional Hearing & Audiology Clinics

iPods and MP3 players are becoming more and more popular these days. Millions of people in the United States use these devices on a regular basis, and new consumers are joining in the trend daily. This new technology is great, but what are the long-term effects of the iPod and MP3 players on the user?

Audioprosthologist Donald R. Kleindl II, BC-HIS, ACA, MCAP, of Professional Hearing & Audiology Clinics, believes iPods and MP3 players are causing serious damage to many people’s hearing.

Consistent exposure to noise, even at moderate levels, can damage the hair cells in the ear that we use to hear,” Kleindl said. “Over time, this damage accumulates, leading to a hearing loss.”

So, what can be done to lessen or eliminate the hearing loss that is endangering iPod and MP3 users?

Limiting exposure time to less than one hour per day can help,” said Sheree Anderson, MA, CCC-A, an audiologist at Professional Hearing & Audiology Clinics.

Anderson recommends turning down the volume to about 60 percent of the maximum level and making it even lower if you listen for longer than one hour.

The National Hearing Conservation Association advises that if others can hear the music from your earpiece or must shout above the music to gain your attention, then the volume is at a dangerous level for your ears.

The risk of noise-induced hearing loss seems to be driving some companies to find solutions. Devices, such as the Kid’s Ear Saver, claim to reduce the sound output of listening devices, such as iPods and MP3 players, by more than 15 decibels. Other companies are responding by producing earpieces that aim to block out background noise, so the music can be heard better at lower volumes.

Overexposure to noise is to blame for nearly 40 percent of all hearing loss, according to the Better Hearing Institute. As a precaution, you should get your hearing checked regularly. Studies have shown that hearing loss can contribute to communication difficulties, psychological stress and loss of income. It can also cause unnecessary family problems.

If you suspect you have a hearing loss for any reason, Professional Hearing & Audiology Clinics is offering a free comprehensive hearing examination. Professional Hearing & Audiology Clinics can be contacted by calling (815) 964-3131. Their clinic is at 1415 E. State St., Suite A1, Rockford.

From the Sept. 7-13, 2011, issue

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