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    Your Ears Will Thank You

    In the world of music, the iPod is still the hottest MP3 player on the block. The little white earbuds that come with the iPod are a nearly ubiquitous sight on the bus, the gym, and around town. But this little status symbol could be creating a generation that will experience hearing loss after a decade of use. Although there is no current evidence directly linking iPods with hearing loss, current available research does show that excessive noise levels over a period of time cause permanent hearing loss.

    Noise induced hearing loss can occur at about level 5 (100 dB) on the device in about 15 minutes according to NIOSH and CDC. Earbud headphones allow outside noise to be heard and this sends messages to the listener to raise the volume. Since iPods are so convenient to use, and so discreet (the device can easily be tucked into a pocket), people are using them more often.

    This combination of frequent use and increased volume could eventually cause permanent hearing loss. So, should you get rid of your iPod? In reality, that it is probably unlikely. Instead, here are four tips to remember while using your iPod. 1. Limit the amount of time that you use the device. Limit your daily listening time to no more than 60 minutes.

    2. Keep the volume down to 65-70 decibels, which is the level of normal conversation. At this time, there is no way to set loudness restrictions on the device. A small increase in decibels (e.

    g. 10 decibels) is like listening to the telephone dial tone (80 dB) vs a hair dryer (90 dB) up close. 3. Invest in noise-canceling headphones. These headphones shut out background noise (for example, airplane noise) and allow the listener to listen to music at lower decibel levels.

    However, they are more expensive. Headphones that cover the entire ear (instead of insertable earbud) are safe and affordable over the long run. 4. Hold off on letting your children own an iPod. If they already have one, limit the use and monitor the loudness levels.

    As small as these devices are, it is easy to pop in the earbuds and listen while in the car, on the bus, etc. If you are standing close to a person listening to music with headphones and you can hear it, the loudness level is too great. It is unlikely that our interest and fascination with iPods is going to go away. The best way to ensure healthy hearing is to limit iPod use and continue to use old fashioned methods of listening to your favorite tunes! Copyright (c) 2008 Lynda Stucky.

    Lynda Stucky is an expert at working with people who want to speak with clarity, credibility, and influence. President and owner of ClearlySpeaking, her background in speech pathology offers unique skills for consulting business professionals on communication skills including accent modification (regional and foreign), voice care, vocal dynamics, diction, grammar and how to speak concisely. http://www.clearly-speaking.com

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