Doctors Warn About Hearing Loss from iPods, MP3 Players

Sep 6th, 2006 | By | Category: General, iPods & Portable Media Players

iPod Sign LanguageNew research conducted for the UK’s Royal National Institute for Deaf People’s Don‚Äôt Lose the Music campaign reveals that 58% of 16-30 year olds are completely unaware of any risk to their hearing from using MP3 players and other audio products that attach directly to the ears.

The Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) is so concerned that the MP3 generation could be at risk from premature hearing damage that it’s calling on manufacturers of MP3 players to provide clearer warnings on packaging about the dangers of listening too loudly to their products.

“We know that young people are at risk from losing their hearing prematurely by listening to loud music for too long on MP3 players,” said Dr John Low, Chief Executive, RNID. “MP3 player manufacturers have a responsibility to make their customers aware of the risks and the need to listen at sensible levels and we urge them to incorporate prominent warnings into the packaging of their products.”

79% of 16-30 year olds have never seen warnings on the outside of the packaging of MP3 players. RNID’s Don’t Lose the Music Campaign believes that MP3 player manufacturers have a responsibility to their customers to alert them to the potential dangers of listening to their products at high volumes.

Don’t Lose the Music has written to the leading manufacturers of MP3 players warning them of the potential dangers to their customers and asking them to provide more prominent warnings on and in packaging and to direct customers to sites where they can get independent and expert advice on how to protect their hearing.

RNID, a UK charity representing the 9 million deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK, launched the Don’t Lose the Music campaign three years ago. The campaign aims to encourage people to protect themselves against the cumulative effects of loud music so they can enjoy music they love for the rest of their lives.

“New technology and ever-increasing storage capacity enables people to listen non-stop for hours ‚Äì and at louder volumes than ever before. If you are regularly plugged in, it is only too easy to clock up noise doses that could damage your hearing forever,” added Dr Low. “RNID‚Äôs Don‚Äôt Lose the Music campaign wants people to be aware of the risks and take control to protect their hearing. We are willing to help manufacturers come up with an effective solution to this growing problem.”

The warnings could come too late for some – Ian, 22 from Glasgow says: “Sometimes I don‚Äôt realise how high I‚Äôve got my MP3 player – I think it‚Äôs not that loud, and then I go to turn it up and I realise it‚Äôs already at the top, so either I‚Äôve already gone deaf a bit or I‚Äôve just got used to it.”

There are steps that can be taken now by music lovers to help safeguard their hearing. Angela King, Senior Audiologist, RNID, says: “If young people aren‚Äôt made to be more aware of the dangers of listening to loud music via their MP3 players, they could end up facing premature hearing loss. RNID‚Äôs Don‚Äôt Lose the Music Week is encouraging all users of MP3 players be aware to ‘turn it down a notch’ ‚Äì even reducing the volume slightly can go a long way to reducing the damage to your ears.”RNID‚Äôs Don‚Äôt Lose the Music campaign is particularly concerned about the use of MP3 players amongst young people not only because of the high volumes, but the length of time they listen to them for.

According to Angela King. Senior Audiologist, RNID, “Hearing loss from loud noise is caused by listening too loudly for too long a period of time. Ringing or buzzing in your ears after using an audio player is a warning sign that if you continue to stress your ears like this, you could damage your hearing permanently.”

RNID is advising music fans to take some simple steps to protect their hearing whenever they listen to music:

  • Turn it down a notch! Even a small decrease in volume could massively lessen the damage to your ears
  • If you can hear sound from your headphones from two or three feet away, they are probably too loud
  • Take a five minute rest period for every hour of listening to allow ears to recover
  • Stand away from loud speakers when in pubs and clubs or at gigs and concerts
  • Take regular breaks from the dance floor in pubs and clubs and use chillout areas to give ears a rest from loud music
  • Wear earplugs specially designed for use in clubs and gigs, especially if you are regularly exposed to loud music i.e. as a frequent clubber, gig goer, DJ or musician.
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