30 July 2008

Hearing Loss and your iPods

The current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine says that "hearing loss is more prevalent among US adults than previously reported."

More and more hearing loss, huh? The louder and the noisier the world gets, the more people can't hear what's happening. The same study suggested that the prevention of hearing loss should begin during "young adulthood."

Now, how is that possible?

In this age of iPods and cellphone headsets, how can we prevent hearing loss? I have yet to encounter a young adult whose iPod is not set to full volume when I'm around them. I have often wondered why they use earphones if they're going to set their iPods to full volume anyway. Privacy, you say? But there's nothing private about it anymore. It is way too loud that even people around can hear what these young people are playing. They call it music, of course; I beg to differ, though --- I call it NOISE.

TIME has an interesting piece on iPods. Here's an excerpt:
Q: How much hearing loss does an iPod cause?

A: It depends on the person, it depends on how long you're listening, and it depends on the level at which you're setting your iPod.

If you're using the earbuds that come with an iPod and you turn the volume up to about 90% of maximum and you listen a total of two hours a day, five days a week, our best estimates are that the people who have more sensitive ears will develop a rather significant degree of hearing loss --- on the order of 40 decibels (dB). That means the quietest sounds audible are 40 dB loud. Now, this is high-pitched hearing loss, so a person can still hear sounds and understand most speech. The impact is going to be most clearly noted when the background-noise level goes up, when you have to focus on what someone is saying. Then it can really start to impair your ability to communicate.
~ TIME, 28 July 2008
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