CANVAS REPORT: These days, an iPod seems to be as necessary as shoes and house keys. However, listening to music on headphones for as little as an hour a day can cause temporary hearing damage, according to anew study .
Researchers in Belgium tested the hearing of adults between the ages of 19 and 28. The subjects were then asked to listen to pop or rock music for six, hour-long sessions using two types of headphones and at varying, preset volumes.
After each session, scientists measured responses to a very short sound and then two sounds of different frequencies. They found the hair cells in the outer ear were temporarily affected after the groups listened to music on an MP3 player.
Warning signs of iPod-induced hearing loss may include ringing in the ears and difficulty hearing what people are saying in a noisy room, Brian Fligor, director of diagnostic audiology at Children’s Hospital in Boston, told WebMD . Fligor said he was aware of the Belgium study’s findings.
Twenty-one people were exposed to the sounds. A control group of 14 people of the same ages was used to compare the results.
“The primary damage is concentrated on the outer hair cells, which are more vulnerable to acoustic overstimulation than inner hair cells,” said lead researcher Dr Hannah Kempler of Ghent University told Great Britain’sTelegraph newspaper.
The results were published in the June issue of theArchives of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery .
Fligor told WebMD that there are safe ways to listen to music. “You could listen to your iPod for an hour and a half at 80 percent (or a volume of level eight) and not increase your risk for hearing loss.” And, “If you keep it at six or below, you can listen all day long.”
The new study verified these settings.