Children's Health

Teens Risk Deafness Playing iPods at 'Jet Engine Volume'

Young adults are risking deafness by listening to iPods at the same volume as jet engines, and even experts are surprised.

Hearing expert Professor Peter Rabinowitz said three-quarters of people under the age of 30 play their iPods at a damaging 85 decibels and above.

But users of MP3 players often wear headphones that fit snugly in the ear and this could boost levels even higher to up to 120 decibels — equivalent to a plane taking off.

Rabinowitz, of Yale University told the British Medical Journal it meant growing numbers of young people risk developing "noise-induced hearing loss."

He said U.S. figures showed 90 percent of young people often used MP3 players, often "for several hours a day at maximum volume."

Dr. Angela Loavenbruck, audiologist and former president of the American Academy of Audiology, told that damaging your hearing is easier than most people think.

“One hundred to 110 decibels of sound from your iPod is enough to damage hearing after less than an hour and a half of use,” Loavenbruck said.

It can be difficult to tell how loud your music is, especially while doing everyday activities.

“If you have ever jogged with an iPod—especially on city sidewalks—you are trying to drown out traffic, and you turn up your volume to do that. You don’t even realize it,” she said. “You can’t really know if you are listening to music that is too loud, or how high the decibel level is.”

For many young people, Loavenbruck said it is a cultural trend to turn their music way up, even to painful levels.

But there are precautions that can be taken to reduce the risk of hearing loss. Loavenbruck recommends getting a pair of custom noise-reducing ear buds.

“Kids take those ear buds and jam into ears, and they typically don’t fit very well. So you have to turn them up louder than regular headphones to get a sense of volume,” she said.

Custom ear buds can be ordered from an audiologist, and are less expensive than most of the high-end headphones on the market.

Without custom ear buds, the best way to protect your hearing is to be conscious of how high your volume is turned up.

“You should never turn the volume on your iPod up to more than 60 or 70 percent of its maximum,” she said.

The loud music trend among people under 30 is a growing concern, resulting in hearing loss.

“We are seeing young people with high frequency damage to their hearing that we normally don’t see until people are in their 40s or 50s,” Loavenbruck said.

Click here to read more from The Sun.