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Exercising with iPods and Earbuds Could Cause Permanent Hearing Loss

Music and earbuds may set you up for permanent hearing loss.

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Updated June 10, 2011

Athletes who use iPods or wear earbuds may be at risk for permanent hearing loss. According to Northwestern University audiologist, Dean Garstecki, found the same kind of hearing loss in younger people who use iPods and earbud headphones that you would typically see in aging adults.

Earbuds are placed directly in the ear and can boost the sound signal by as much as six to nine decibels. It's enough to cause hearing loss after only about an hour and 15 minutes.

The recommendation is what the reasearchers call the 60 percent/60 minute rule. they recommend using the MP3 devices, including iPods, no more than about an hour a day and at levels below 60 percent of maximum volume.

It's hard to give up music during exercise. We know the the right music can improve exercise motivation and make a tough workout feel easier.

But if you want to lower your risk of permanent hearing loss, especially in the middle ranges -- the range required to hear conversations in a noisy restaurant -- audiologists recommend the older style, larger headphones that rest over the ear opening.

Another, more stylish, option is the use of noise-canceling headphones that eliminate background noise so listeners don't have to crank the volume so high.

Source: http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2005/12/garstecki.html

Review: December, 2005

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