Limit iPod Use to Avoid Potential Hearing Damage

Marshfield Clinic Expert Recommends No More Than Two Hours of Daily MP3 Player


Jan 19, 2006, 00:00 ET from Marshfield Clinic

    MARSHFIELD, Wis., Jan. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Are portable MP3 players like
 iPods too hot for ears to handle?
     "They're fine to use.  Just be sensible about the volume and amount of
 time you listen," said Christine Albertus, audiologist at Marshfield Clinic,
 Marshfield, Wisconsin. "If the person next to you can hear your music, it's
 too loud." Albertus recommends using an iPod for a maximum of two hours a day.
     When Baby Boomers cranked up stereos, music dissipated from speakers
 across the room. When portable Walkman stereos were introduced, music was much
 closer to ears, but some sound leaked from muff-style headphones. With the
 advent of in-the-ear headphones, music is pumped directly into the ear canal,
 Albertus said. "We're moving sound closer and closer. It's really increasing
 pressure on the ear."
     Hearing damage accumulates with exposure. Continuous listening, even at
 reasonable levels, can damage delicate hair cells in the inner ear. "In most
 young people some damage is already there, but it doesn't directly affect
 their ability to communicate with friends or family," she said. "Fast forward,
 and they may be hearing aid candidates by the time they're in their early
     The journal Pediatrics recently estimated that 12.5 percent of children
 ages 6 to 19 have noise-induced hearing loss. Occupational Safety & Health
 Administration guidelines say volume exceeding 80 decibels for up to eight
 hours can cause hearing loss.  A typical lawn mower produces 80 to 85
 decibels. "If the volume is up to over 100 decibels, even one and a half or
 two hours of use can cause damage," Albertus said.
     People of all ages should practice hearing conservation, Albertus said.
 She encourages protecting ears from noise generated by lawn mowers, chain
 saws, power tools, guns, recreational vehicles and concerts.  Foam earplugs
 are an effective, inexpensive way to protect hearing, she said.  Noise-
 reducing earmuffs and custom-made ear protection are other options.
     "Realize what causes hearing loss and use common sense. If you're exposed
 to loud sounds, use ear protection," Albertus added.
     The Marshfield Clinic system consists of 41 patient care and research and
 education facilities in northern, central and western Wisconsin, making it one
 of the largest integrated medical systems in the United States.

SOURCE Marshfield Clinic