Turn down

It only takes one, single loud noise to damage the ears permanently.

According the National Institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders, more than 26 million Americans have hearing loss that may have been caused by exposure to loud noises. This growing public health concern is termed noise-induced hearing loss.

Chris Moleski, a parent and infant provider through the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, said youth are prone to NIHL.

“It’s been found that teens and children usually listen to devices at louder volume levels than adults,” Moleski said.

Catherine Johnson, an audiologist at the Florida State University Speech and Hearing Clinic, said because iPods and other mp3 devices are being listened to at loud volumes, more cases of NIHL are appearing.

“There’s this huge influx of hearing losses that weren’t even present before and now they are,” Johnson said.

A study performed by teachers in India at Bharti Vidyapeeth Dental College focused on 150 students. In this study, 112 students had been exposed to loud music on a normal basis. Out of those 112 students, 16 students were diagnosed with NIHL.

Jennifer Richter, a speech and language pathology FSU graduate student, said prolonged exposure to loud music could result in NIHL.

“If you’re exposed to 80 decibels or higher of noise [on a routine basis], you are increasing your risk of noise-induced hearing loss,” Richter said. “Examples of noises that are 80 decibels or higher are lawnmowers and rock concerts.”

Once NIHL occurs, it’s unable to be cured-but it can be prevented.

“A good rule of thumb for everyone to follow is the ’60/60′ rule, which means you use only 60 percent of the device’s volume level for no more than 60 minutes at a time,” Moleski said. “Then, give your ears a break for 60 minutes.”

Moleski also said it’s important to wear earplugs, noise-cancelling headphones or some sort of protective hearing device when engaged in loud activity.

To learn more about the correlation between mp3 device/iPod usage and noise-induced hearing loss, visit http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/Noise-Induced-Hearing-Loss-in-Children.cfm .