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Young iPod users at risk of noise-induced hearing loss

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A link between listening to loud music and a loss of hearing has been highlighted in a study that claims some young people are listening to music at the same volume as a jet engine.

Using MP3 players at high volumes and using earphones that fit into the ear are particular worries for the researchers and such practices put the ears under the same stress as listening to an aeroplane take off.

Continually listening to such loud music - sometimes for up to two hours a day - could lead to loss of hearing, said Professor Peter Rabinowitz, from the Yale University School of Medicine in the US.

Writing online in the BMJ, he said the leading cause of preventable hearing loss is exposure to excessive levels of noise - which is increasingly due to portable music players, some of which generate volumes in the ear in excess of 120 decibels.

“Traditionally, noise-induced hearing loss was a disease of adults who worked in noisy occupations or used firearms,” he said.

“However, concern is growing that children and young adults are developing noise-induced hearing loss as a result of ‘environmental’ over-exposure to amplified music, especially through the use of personal music devices such as MP3 players.

“As with mobile phones, the use of personal music players has grown faster than our ability to assess their potential health consequences.

“The reported use of these devices is high in young people - more than 90% in surveys from Europe, and the United States - and users often listen for several hours a day at maximum volume.”

Prof Rabinowitz said several small studies found that young people had worse hearing if they listened to music players, but more research was needed.

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