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Health & Families

A healthier way to hear your tunes

Researchers noting the iPod trend and rise in youth hearing loss published their findings in the August 31 online edition of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

However, they are not ready to blame your ear buds for hearing-related problems.

If others can hear your favorite jam in the elevator, bus or just by sitting next to you, then you may need to turn down the volume.

Brian Fligor, director of diagnostic audiology at Children's Hospital Boston, recommends keeping the volume to a level just a tad louder than conversational according to an August 30 Center for Advancing Health announcement.

Abbey Berg, PhD, a professor in the Biology & Health Sciences department at Pace University in New York, led a team of researchers and noted with the rise in popularity of iPods and other music listening devices, high-frequency hearing loss and tinnitus has also risen amongst tweens and teens.

"Girls using the devices were 80 percent more likely to have impaired hearing than those who did not; of the teens reporting tinnitus, all but one (99.7 percent) were users."

But, Abbey said, "just because there's an association, it doesn't mean cause and effect."

Fligor contends, "It's when you start overworking the ear that you get problems."

Abbey told Relaxnews on August 30, that she will continue to "maintain observations with this population [8,710 tween and teen girls of lower socioeconomic status] to determine if there are any other effects."

To protect your ears, Abbey recommends "Personal listening devices (PLDs; eg., iPods, MP3 players) should be used for no more than 1 hour per day when using a supra-aural headphone at 60% maximum volume. If using an insert earphone, greater caution should be exercised as the sound pressure level is increased by 7-9 dB sound pressure level (SPL) compared to the supra-aural type earphone."

Full Study, "High Frequency Hearing Sensitivity in Adolescent Females of Low-Socioeconomic Status Over a 24-Year Period (1985-2008)": http://jahonline.org/inpress