MP3 players harm hearing
People using MP3 players have a high risk of temporary changes in hearing, which over time could result in permanent hearing loss.
Exposure to harmful noise - noise that is too loud or loud sounds that go on too long - can eventually lead to hearing loss by damaging the sensitive hair cells in the inner ear. The same may be true of loud music pumped directly into the ear through MP3 players. To test this, researchers exposed 21 Germans to rock music heard through headphones on an MP3 player - a digital audio player using MP3 files - during six sessions. The participants used two types of headphones and several volume settings on an MP3 player. The researchers tested the hearing of each person before and after each one-hour session.
The researchers found substantial, albeit temporary, changes in hearing sensitivity of the participants using audiometry and otoacoustic emissions, indicating that noise from MP3 players affects the hearing ability and that prolonged listening at loud volumes may lead to temporary and later irreversible hearing loss.
The findings are important because they document a troubling temporary threshold shift in hearing associated with MP3 players. Further research is needed to evaluate the long-term risk of noise exposure on the hearing system of the youth.
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