How loud is too loud when listening to my iPod?
BY: Nicole GregoryIf you’re listening to your iPod, and you have to yell or be yelled at to tune into a conversation, then the volume of your music is too high, says Yuri Agrawal, M.D., an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist) at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore. The result: You might be doing permanent damage to the sensitive structures in your inner ear.
Dr. Agrawal recently completed a study that shows hearing loss is more prevalent in American adults than previously reported. Between the years of 2003 and 2004, over 16 percent of Americans had speech frequency (lower pitch) hearing loss, a problem that appears to be growing more common among people in their 20s.
Risk factors for hearing loss include being male, smoking and having cardiovascular disease. In addition, European studies suggest that increased, cumulative use of cell phones, iPods and Bluetooth technologies are causing hearing loss, notes Dr. Agrawal.
While there’s no definitive evidence connecting iPod use with hearing loss, “it is reasonable and makes empirical sense that prolonged, high-amplitude exposure to sounds results in decreased functioning of the auditory system,” says Dr. Agrawal. And once hearing loss has occurred, the damage is irreversible. So keep the volume down on your iPod. That way, you’ll be able to enjoy the music for many years to come.
Nicole Gregory, contributor to Live Right Live Well, is a Los Angeles-based writer who has written for numerous publications, including Weight Watchers magazine, Vegetarian Times, Viv, Fit Pregnancy and many others.