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Lower the Volume.

“Say what?” This phrase is becoming more common today—thanks to the misuse of MP3 players and other portable music devices that may lead to hearing loss.

North Oaks Neuro-otologist Gerard Gianoli, MD, explains that hearing loss is caused by three main factors:
  • Genetics
  • Increased volume
  • Extended exposure.
According to The Mayo Clinic, about 10 million Americans have noise-induced hearing loss.

For those people who are more apt to hearing problems, a single loud noise (such as a gunshot) usually will not cause permanent hearing loss. Likewise, exposure to low volume levels will not cause hearing loss.

However, continuous exposure to volumes above 85 decibels can cause irreversible hearing loss. By way of comparison, 85 decibels is like standing right next to an 18-wheeler as it revs its engine!

Today’s portable music devices produce sound well above 85 decibels. The American Speech-Language- Hearing Association found that almost 40 percent of adults and students listen to their headphones on the “loud” or “very loud” setting. They also found that more than half of adults use headphones for 1 or more hours at a time. This means that one in every five adults is subjecting himself or herself to possible future hearing loss.

Another factor in hearing loss is the type of headphone or earphone used. “Headphones” sit on top of your ears. An earphone, or “earbud,” rests inside your ear canal. Because earphones are directing 100 percent of the sound directly at your eardrum, they are more dangerous to your hearing. On average, earphones are between 7 and 9 decibels louder than headphones