Concern over hearing loss from personal music players

Apr 20, 2010

Young people who listen to personal music players for several hours a day at high volume could be putting their hearing at risk, warns an expert in an editorial published in the British Medical Journal today.

Professor Peter Rabinowitz from Yale University School of Medicine says that personal music devices such as MP3 players can generate levels of sound at the ear in excess of 120 decibels, similar in intensity to a jet engine, especially when used with earphones that insert into the ear canal.

The use of these devices is high in young people - more than 90% in surveys from Europe and the United States - and "has grown faster than our ability to assess their potential health consequences," he writes.

However, evidence that music players are causing hearing loss in young people is mixed, suggesting that the true population effects may only now be starting to be detectable, says the author.

Other health effects may also need to be considered. For example, some studies have shown that use of personal music players can interfere with concentration and performance when driving, in a similar way to mobile phones.

Although evidence based guidance is lacking, Rabinowitz believes that the importance of as a public health problem makes it reasonable to encourage patients of all ages to promote "hearing health" through avoidance of excessive noise exposure.

He also suggests it would be prudent to remove while driving and performing other safety sensitive tasks, and calls for more comprehensive and ongoing surveys of the hearing health of young people.

"Personal music players provide a reminder that our hunger for new technology should be accompanied by equally vigorous efforts to understand and manage the health consequences of changing lifestyles," he concludes.

Explore further: Doctor revalidation needs to address seven key issues for success, claims report

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New iPod listening study shows surprising behavior of teens

Feb 18, 2009

A new study involving iPods and teenagers by the University of Colorado at Boulder and Children's Hospital Boston indicates teenagers who receive pressure from their peers or others to turn down the volume of their iPods ...

Pump down the volume, EU to tell MP3 makers

Sep 25, 2009

Tens of millions of people will be forced to listen to portable music at permanently reduced volume under European Commission proposals to be unveiled next week.

Going to the gym shouldn't be a workout for your eardrums

Jan 20, 2010

Listening to an iPod while working out feels like second nature to many people, but University of Alberta researcher Bill Hodgetts says we need to consider the volume levels in our earphones while working up a sweat.

Study examines prevalence of hearing loss in the US

Jul 28, 2008

Hearing loss may be more prevalent in American adults than previously reported, according to a study in the July 28 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Rowdy hockey fans can cause hearing damage, say researchers

Dec 05, 2006

During last year's NHL playoffs, Edmonton Oilers' fans tried to earn the title of loudest arena in the game, but new University of Alberta research shows that even a few hours of exposure to that level of noise can be harmful.

Recommended for you

US judge blocks enforcement of new abortion law

10 minutes ago

A federal judge has temporarily blocked Louisiana from enforcing its restrictive new abortion law. But lawyers and advocates appeared to disagree about whether the judge's order affects doctors at all five abortion clinics ...

New toilets for India's poor, crime-hit village

22 hours ago

More than 100 new toilets were unveiled Sunday in a poverty-stricken and scandal-hit village in northern India, where fearful and vulnerable women have long been forced to defecate in the open.

Can YouTube save your life?

Aug 29, 2014

Only a handful of CPR and basic life support (BLS) videos available on YouTube provide instructions which are consistent with recent health guidelines, according to a new study published in Emergency Medicine Australasia, the jo ...

Doctors frequently experience ethical dilemmas

Aug 29, 2014

(HealthDay)—For physicians trying to balance various financial and time pressures, ethical dilemmas are common, according to an article published Aug. 7 in Medical Economics.

User comments : 0