A residential facility surveyed nearly 9,000 girls over the course of 24 years. In 2001, it began asking the girls about their use of personal music players. Over the course of 7 years - until 2008 - "personal music player use rose fourfold, from 18.3 percent to 76.4 percent. High-frequency hearing loss increased from 12.4 percent to 19.2 percent [...], while the proportion of girls reporting tinnitus [...] nearly tripled, from 4.6 percent to 12.5 percent." All but one of the girls who reported tinnitus used music players.
It's definitely interesting. The study cautions that there are other factors that can contribute to hearing loss; we're all exposed to a lot of noise each day, and not just music. But it's definitely something to consider.
Headphones and music players aren't all bad. How can individuals prevent hearing loss when listening to music?
- If you have normal hearing, test if you can hear a typical conversation in a quiet room over the music. If you have to turn down or mute the player to hear something someone is saying, it is too loud.
- See if your music player has a volume limit built in, or try volume-limiting headphones or an accessory such as the Macks EarSaver (note: I haven't tried this product).
- If you're in a noisy environment, avoid using headphones for long periods of time to resist the temptation to turn them up.
- If you're concerned you've lost hearing, have it tested and see what an audiologist recommends.
- Do not listen to anything louder than 90 decibels for more than two hours per day; aim for less.
- If you notice people seem to be mumbling, or sounds like the refrigerator or air conditioning seem to be taking precedence over other sounds, get your hearing checked.