For the Love of Ipod

By: Christine Peppler

The good news is that iPODs are a great product, they're cool, and they bring a lot of joy. People can be pretty fanatic about their iPOD. They say it opens up a whole new world of sound to them. It's not just kids either. I have friends in their 40's and 50's who can't part with it and have unabashedly declared their addiction to their iPOD. I even have one older friend who swears he can suddenly hear better out of his impaired left ear when wearing his iPOD with earbuds.

Now we all know the bad news too. Experts are warning us that using MP3 Players in general, and iPODs in particular, can potentially cause significant hearing loss over time. Noise induced hearing loss is not isolated to music of course. Sudden loud noise such as a gun firing or an explosion at close range can wreak havoc on the auditory system. In this situation, the exposure to noise is brief but the ear does not have time to sense the sudden trauma and protect itself; thus damage occurs. This is evident when ringing in the ears is present after the event.

Another common noise induced hearing loss is the result of exposure to significant noise levels over an extended period of time. The loudness that creates the damage may not seem excessive to some people; perhaps the sound of a loud truck, a vacuum cleaner, or machines in a factory. When exposed to these sounds the ear will to some extent attempt to protect itself, but over a prolonged period of time, it fatigues and damage occurs. The damage occurs gradually and is generally not noticeable until it is too late. So, basically hearing loss can result from exposure to loud sounds (sounds over 120 decibels for instance) or exposure to less intense noise over a period of time (85 decibels for more than an hour).

A couple of additional features of our glorious iPOD create concerns for those involved in caring for our hearing. One is the earbud style headphones which move the source of sound closer to the structures which allow us to hear. These earbuds actually increase the sound by 6-9 decibels over the traditional over-the-ear headphones. Thus, they give us louder listening and greater risk of damage. In addition, the fact that the iPOD can hold and play thousands of songs and hours of music ensures that we are listening for prolonged periods of time. So, you guessed it, even if we turn the volume down a bit, we can still have damage due to the prolonged listening.

So, are you ready to give up your iPOD? No, I didn't think so. Most of us have figured out that just about everything potentially causes damage to our fragile bodies and the goal is to act responsibly while still enjoying ourselves. So here are just a few common sense things to help you listen responsibly:

&bull Dial the volume down to 6 or lower

&bull Use over-the-ear headphones versus earbuds

&bull Limit listening to no more than 1 hour at a time (less if listening level is at a 110 dB or higher)

&bull Listen to your iPOD via an external device without earphones when possible (at home with an iHome device)

&bull Avoid using your iPOD to drown out other loud noises

Apple blessed us with these wonderful little devices, but don't lose your hearing for the love of iPOD.

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