Earbuds Can Cause Hearing Loss

Higher Rate Of Hearing Loss In Adolescents Now Than 15 Years Ago

Jamming to music could be hurting people's ears. One in five adolescents will have hearing loss. That number is a lot higher than it used to be.

"It is going to (cause) permanent damage if people don't do something about it," said Betty Sweetman, of the Center for Hearing, Speech and Language in Denver.

Sweetman said more people have hearing loss now than ever before. In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported a 31 percent increase in the prevalence of hearing loss since their past numbers in a 1988-1994 study.

"Exposure to loud noise, whether from earbuds or headphones," said Sweetman. "It is the frequency at which you are exposed and the intensity of what (people are) exposed to."

Soft music, like a man playing the flute on the 16th Street Mall can literally be music to a person's ears; however for some people it's not.

"Music loud, always equals better," said Mary Reddy.

Reddy said turning down her iPod to save her ears isn't something she really thinks about.

"I like my music really loud," said Reddy. "Walking down here I was thinking, 'God my music is really loud.' I was like, 'I wonder if people on the bus are going to hear me right now.'"

Sweetman said there are two ways to protect a person's hearing. She recommends never playing an iPod or other musical device louder than 50 percent of its max level. She also said if a person sitting or standing three feet away from you can hear the music you are playing, it's too loud.

Sweetman said the reason loud music can be such a problem is that the hearing loss from it is gradual, so by the time a person realizes it's a problem, it's too late.

"So far we can't grow those ear cells back," said Sweetman.

According to the Journal of American Medical Association, females are less likely to experience hearing loss than men.