Friday, December 30, 2011

New Evidence that MP3 Players May Be Detrimental To Your Hearing

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This is the topic nobody wants to talk about.  It seems that society is literally kicking this can down the road to be dealt with in a few decades when the hearing problems begin.  

I think many of us have given up since kids just tune out any criticism from adults anyway and consider them to be prudes.  They also respond to peer pressure by keeping their music loud.  We all know that teenagers often feel that they are invincible, so getting this message through to them is going to be a difficult task.  

And what about all the musicians out there?  A good percentage of students at the music school I attend can often be seen listening to some kind of iPod device with headphones.  These are mostly people who will depend on their hearing for a living, but the risk of hearing loss is treated like the invisible elephant in the room!  We all just sit there and act like nothing is the matter as half the people around us destroy their hearing!  This amazes me, since some of these people will be sitting in the chair next to you in the orchestra or choir years from now.  Then it will be too late to comment about how they can't play or sing in tune!

This study that has just been published in the International Journal of Audiology has discovered that a full 25% of participants ages 13 to 17 were at a severe risk of future hearing loss due to their music listening habits!  That is a scary number!  It is hard enough sometimes to carry on phone conversations or go to public events with some of my family that is my parent's or grandparent's age because of their hearing loss.  This is to be expected, after all, but can you imagine in the future what it will be like with the "headphone" generation getting into their 50's and 60's??  

How will this effect our use of music for therapy?  And how many music therapists will be hampered in their work by hearing loss?  

I have heard that it may be better to use the earphones that cancel outside sound or that are inserted inside the ear to better seal off outside sound.  In this way, you are better able to control the volume without trying to make it louder to compensate for outside noise.  What do you think about this strategy?

Better yet - KEEP THE VOLUME DOWN (...oh, sorry, was I yelling?...)



  1. As an audiologist, I have a handful of teenagers who have classic noise-induced patterns of hearing loss. With the iPod revolution, this will continue to affect adults as well. Yes, I agree that the canceling headphones are better, or having custom molds made for your earbuds so you can listen at a much lower volume. Either can be made by an audiologist. Further, they have volume liters that can be attached as a small adapter that plugs from your headphones into the iPod that will limit the volume to safe levels. Good post!

  2. Hi Andi! So nice to hear from you! Thank you so much for your expert advice! I love the idea of the volume governor so that it can't go louder than a certain setting! Where can people find those?

  3. There's a company called Mack's makes one. They mainly sell earplugs, but this particular product is called "Ear Saver." I'm looking at their Web site now and don't see it, but looks like you can still get them on Amazon.
    You can, also, set the volume limit on your iPod yourself:

  4. That is a very cool feature for the iPod! Thanks for sharing!


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