MP3 players and iPods have been taking a lot of heat lately for causing hearing loss. The fact of the matter is that the risk of hearing loss imposed by MP3 players and iPods is no greater than that caused by anything else capable of producing loud, sustained sounds. MP3 players are merely a new technology being used for old purposes. You can just as well lose your hearing from a cassette player or even someone singing directly into your ear.
Loud noises can cause hearing loss by damaging thin hair-like cells in the inner ear. Hair cells in the ears can recover from some damage, but if they are destroyed, they do not grow back. It is the destruction of the cells that lead to permanent hearing loss. It is estimated that about 10 million people in the U.S. suffer from hearing loss induced by loud sounds.
Some MP3 players are capable of producing sounds at up 120 decibels. This is the equivalent of a chain saw or emergency vehicle siren. When the ear is exposed to such high-decibel noise, hearing loss can occur. The problem with portable music players is that the sound is directed into the ear through headphones. Some doctors have theorized that in-ear headphones are more dangerous than over-the-ear headphones, but, so far, studies on the subject have shown no difference. Other doctors have also argued that iPods are worse than old technology music systems because they hold more music and the batteries last a longer time. No studies have confirmed a link between these facts and increased rates of hearing loss.
To prevent any possible hearing loss from music or sounds, it is suggested to listen to music no louder than 80 decibels. This roughly translates to music players being set at no higher than 60% of their maximum volume.
Posted 3538 day ago