Turn down the volume, says healthcare group

In a recently completed survey, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) found that many adults and teenagers have some type of hearing loss. The group, in partnership with Zogby, polled 1000 adults and 301 teenagers to find out their listening habits and what audio gadgets they were using. Most of those polled had used a cellular phone, walkman and iPod, but the group stops short of blaming those gadgets for the hearing loss.

What exactly constitutes hearing loss? The top three symptoms listed in the study were: needing to turn up the volume on the television or radio; asking people to repeat things during conversations; and ringing in the ears. 51% percent of teenagers and 37% of the adults in the poll said they had some of these symptoms.

The poll asked people what gadgets they listened to the most. Several questions were directed at the Apple iPod, no doubt because of its popularity amongst both teenagers and adults. The cellular phone, walkman/CD player, and laptop computer were the top three gadgets that were listened to on a regular basis. 11% of adults and 36% of teenagers regularly used the Apple iPod.

Interestingly enough, the study found that adults listen to their iPods much longer than teenagers. The majority of teenagers listened for 15 minutes to one hour, while adults 38% of adults listened to their iPods for one to four hours. In addition 15% of the adult iPod owners regularly listened for more than four hour sessions. These long sessions are probably because of long work commutes or perhaps just being bored at work.

The study doesn't point the finger at any particular electronic device, but hints that long sessions, loud volume and excess outside noise could be factors in hearing loss. ASHA recommends that people cut down on their listening time and reduce the volume. In addition, they are telling people to buy earphones that cover the whole ear, instead of ear buds, which merely fit inside the ear. The group says earphones block out more noise which is what causes people to turn up volume in the first place.