Since their debut in the marketplace, iPods have revolutionized the way we listen to music. iPod hard drives store up to 300 hours of music, batteries last for 12 hours, and the volume can be cranked up to 120 decibels. That's louder than a chain saw or pneumatic drill, and equivalent to a jet plane taking off! But iPod fans are being warned to turn their music down. Even manufacturer, Apple, includes a cautionary note with every iPod, warning, "permanent hearing loss may occur if earphones or headphones are used at high volume."
Currently, 16 million baby boomers have hearing loss and the number is expected to surge to 78 million by 2030. Amazingly, nearly three-quarters of them admit that they have never visited a doctor or hearing health specialist to have a hearing test. In spite of this lack of concern, there are more boomers aged 46 to 64 with hearing loss than seniors over the age of 65 with the same condition, and hearing loss among baby boomers is 26 percent more common than in previous generations.
Loud music and noise causes hearing loss by damaging the delicate hair nerve cells in the cochlea, a part of the inner ear that helps transmit sound impulses to the brain. These hair cells often recover from temporary damage. However, permanent damage can occur with prolonged exposure to extremely loud or moderately loud noise. When these nerve hair cells are destroyed, irreversible hearing loss results.
Many people who listen to iPods in noisy environments pump up the volume to dangerous levels to drown out background noise. Busy city hubs and subway noise (around 90 decibels) are already sufficiently loud to cause permanent damage with considerable exposure. Although the damage from chronic exposure to these sound levels is generally slow, it is cumulative. Music lovers who tolerate noise levels above 85 decibels for long periods will end up with irreversible hearing loss.
Here are five steps you can take to protect yourself from hearing loss:
· Limit the volume of your iPod to 60 decibels (db), about two-thirds of the maximum volume.
· Try to limit listening to no more than 60 minutes a day.
· Wear sound-isolating or noise-canceling headphones that fit over the ear, instead of ear buds that are inserted directly in the ear. This is because when using ear buds, you still hear the external noise. You turn up the volume to drown out the noise, boosting the sound signals by as much as six to nine decibels over the noise. You can hear the music from your iPod, but you are unaware of the excessive volume.
· Take advantage of the free download Apple is now offering for the iPod Nano, and iPod models with video-playback capabilities. The download contains a setting to limit the volume. · If you are experiencing tinnitus (ringing in the ears), muffled sound after listening to your iPod, or you are having difficulty hearing conversations, visit to a physician and take a hearing test.
During my first 20 years in hearing health practice, our clientele were mainly seniors around 75 years of age. However, over the past 10 years, I have noticed a huge difference in our clientele. Nowadays, baby boomers of all ages are making appointments, and most of them have noise-induced hearing loss. Loud rock music and living life 'full on' in an amplified noisy society have contributed to hearing loss amongst baby boomers. Nevertheless, if we follow the iPod 60-60 Protection Plan, we can enjoy our iPods and continue to live life to the fullest.
By Randy Wohlers BC HIS
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