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September 12, 2011 | by  | in Opinion |
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Student Health Services – Personal Stereo Use and Hearing Loss

According to experts the massive popularity of portable music players could mean many more people will develop hearing loss, because sound is directly funnelled into your ear unlike environmental sound.

If the volume through headphones is too high and if you are listening for long hours, there is a real risk of permanent hearing damage.
To determine if you are at risk for music-induced hearing loss from wearing your personal stereo system, it would be necessary to know how loud your particular system is and how long you use it each day. This is very difficult as systems vary in output. It is important to follow these simple steps to protect yourself from a permanent music-induced hearing loss due to personal stereo systems use.

• Always follow the 60\60 Rule: Researchers determined that the exposure limit for safe headphone listening is one hour a day with the volume no higher that 60 per cent. If you listen for more than an hour, you should turn the volume down.
• Ear muff type headphones are better than Ear buds: Unfortunately, the ear buds preferred by music listeners are even more likely to cause hearing loss than the muff-type earphones that were associated with the older devices.
• Turn it Down: Use a well-shielded earphone/earbud and turn the volume down as much as possible.
• Take a Break: Avoid prolonged, continuous listening to the systems by taking frequent breaks.
• Avoid: using the personal stereo while exercising (you may maintain a high volume as you are exercising) or if your work already involves head phone usage and/or loud noises or music exposure. This means you may exceed the permissible daily noise dosage.
• “Automatic Volume Limiter”: Look for personal stereo system with an “Automatic Volume Limiter’ which limits the output of the system to safe levels.
• Do not ‘block out’ the noise: Set your system at a comfortable level in a quiet room. Do not turn it up when you are in noisy setting to ‘block out’ the noise
• Do not interchange headsets with systems: The League for the Hard of Hearing has found that this will increase output and risk to hearing.
• Follow this simple rule of thumb: If you cannot hear other people talking when you are wearing headphones or if other people have to shout to you to be heard at one metre
away while the headphones are on, it is too loud and could be damaging to your hearing.

If you hear ringing or buzzing sounds in your ears or you find speech sounds muffled, discontinue using your personal stereo and get your hearing checked by a qualified audiologist.

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