iPods Bring Music to Your Ears, but Beware

Article Date: Jul 29, 2010

It’s a common warning: listen to music that’s too loud, for too long and you may suffer some hearing loss. Add the current fashion statement – a set of ear buds that pump music directly into the ear – and we may soon see an entire generation of Americans trading in their headphones for hearing aids.

Nick Corritore and Aaron Flynn work out three to four times a week at the Alegent Health Lakeside Wellness Center in Omaha. They don’t leave home without their running shoes or their MP3 players.

Plugging in tunes
“I’m here for about an hour to an hour and a half and I usually listen to this the whole time,” said Corritore, motioning to his earphones. Flynn agrees. “I plug in and don’t have to focus on the time or how long I need to do my workout.”

Music is a big part of their workout. It motivates them to work hard. But that motivation – or music, and how they listen to it – could be doing some real damage to their ears.

Hearing loss
“You know, sometimes we have the headphones in so much that they kind of hurt your ears,” said Flynn.

“At first I would almost get this thing going as loud as it would go, and my ears would just be ringing when I was done,” said Nick.

“For an average MP3 player, you don’t want to use them any more than 90 minutes a day at about 60 percent of the volume,” said Alegent Health Clinic Audiologist Rebecca Braun. “Any more than that and over a period of time you’ll start having hearing loss. There are going to be a lot of people in hearing aids sooner rather than later.”

Capping the volume
Turning down the volume is one fix, but Braun recommends even more – like swapping out for some isolating headphones.

“It snaps right in and you can actually turn down the volume significantly,” she explains.

In France and other European countries, they are actually legislating the sound – capping the volume on MP3s to avoid hearing loss. That’s something Corritore isn’t ready to think about – at least not yet.

“I’m a little too young to worry about that now,” he says. “Maybe in 10 years I will be saying, ‘I wish I had turned that iPod down a little bit’.”

If you would like to learn more about hearing loss or find a physician who is right for you, call 1-800-ALEGENT or go to www.alegent.com.


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