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Music to Your Ears?

By: Toni Harrison
By: Toni Harrison

They hold hours worth of music and millions of Americans use them everyday, they're iPods and MP3 players and the popular devices are showing up everywhere, from college campuses to local gyms.

Brian Taylor relies on his iPod to get through a workout.

"I can put all my cardio songs on there and then pick and choose what songs I want for weights. Without it I feel kind of unfocused," said Brian Taylor, iPod user.

Most listeners crank up the volume, but Taylor says he's learned to turn down the tunes.

"I've actually listened to my music pretty loud in the past and found that I don't like it when my ears ring and you can't hear afterward," said Taylor.

Most of these musical gadgets are so small, they fit right in the palm of your hand. But when it comes to listening to the device, you also hold the future of your hearing in your hands.

Dr. Thomas Salzer is with Central Texas ENT. He says that while the devices are handy, they could pose a long-term threat to your hearing.

"Exposure at a high level above 85 decibels for two hours is at high risk for hearing loss," said Dr. Thomas Salzer, Central Texas ENT.

Most of the devices are capable of cranking out 115 decibels, which is equal to a chainsaw or an ambulance siren. But Salzer says, there is a way to tell if you've pumped up the volume a little to high.

"If your ears are ringing, if people are having to shout at you while you're wearing it, if you're experiencing muffled sound it's because you're causing permanent injury," said Salzer.

The potential for hearing loss also depends on how long you listen.

"The louder and the longer duration the more likely you are to do permanent damage," said Salzer.

Doctors say hearing damage accumulates over time, but turning down the volume is the best idea. It will prolong your hearing so you can continue to listen to the hours of music you've collected.

For more information and resources on hearing loss and music devices, visit www.earbud.org.


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