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Hearing Loss - iPod, Loud Music, High Frequency & Noise Induced


Society is more bombastic than ever with many people leaning toward extreme culture. That includes extreme noise, music, and jobs that can set participants up for hearing loss. Once hair cells in the ears die due to iPod acoustic isolation, high volume concerts, or raucous environmental and occupational noises, the ears can no longer efficiently send sound signals to the brain. Many doctors suggest that children and teens today will become dependent on hearing aids and implants much sooner than the generation before them due to the plethora of hearing loss threats around us.


The pervasive Apple iPod MP3 music player has become of the most common device for listening to music for both adults and teens. The private and continual blaring of music through iPod ear buds is seductive to so many because it creates a personal buffer that drowns out the outside world and relieves stress by bringing beats so close one can feel the vibrations. This intense, intimate merger with music, however, can be fatal to hair cells in the ears and lead to iPod hearing loss. The risk is most prevalent among teens, according to Colorado University audiologists whose research determined that not only do teens blast music louder than the average adult but that they are mostly oblivious to how excessive their volume is.

Many iPod hearing loss candidates often dial the volume up to the maximum level as a normal routine. Researchers warn however that just five minutes of listening at the highest volume on a daily basis is enough to erode hearing over time. Once hair cells are killed by hearing loss and iPod use, they will skew the sound signals being sent from the ears to the brain. At that point, the brain may not be able to decipher sounds at normal pitches.

Loud Music

Taking the ear buds out is not always the answer. Loud music emanating from closed venues like bars and dance clubs can be as much of a hearing loss hazard as sound isolated inside the ear canal with MP3 players. Rock music is not the only culprit; jazz and classical music can also cause ear damage, not only for listening aficionados but also for the musicians themselves. Practice rooms, music studios, and concert halls allow acoustic reverberations at volumes high enough to lead to hearing loss.

Some listeners can suffer loss after one-time exposure to loud music in a concert, particularly if they have sat close to speakers. Generally, such individuals will notice tinnitus, or ear ringing, the day after; such ringing is a warning sign. Doctors, however, say losses from infrequent exposure to loud music are mostly temporary. Permanent hearing loss due to loud music requires repeated exposure without buffers.

Loss of hearing due to loud music was once termed “rock and roll deafness” and believed to be a major threat to the Baby Boomers who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s. Those adults, however, will fare better than music listeners in the MTV and MP3 generations, doctors claim, because the latter have made loud music a commonplace staple. Vanderbilt University otolaryngologists claim that studies they conducted with nearly 3,000 of MTV listeners showed hearing loss among them to be a norm. Roughly a third of young survey participants had suffered some form of hearing loss.

High Frequency

The loss of the ability to hear high frequency sounds is typically the first to vanish when hearing loss begins. Frequency is measured in hertz (Hz) and generally refers to pitch. The lowest pitches or frequencies are deep, bass sounds, while the highest frequencies and pitches available to humans include sounds like shrill screaming, whistles and chirpy children’s voices. Someone having trouble deciphering the voices of young children could very well be suffering from initial hearing loss. Overwhelming exposure to high -pitched noises in the environment, like shrieking or whining machinery, can actually induce hearing loss more quickly than low-pitch sound exposure


Deafness due to loud noises leads to sensorineural hearing loss, which means areas of the inner ear have been destroyed. With this type of loss, those afflicted can typically only hear very loud sounds or voices. This loss is caused by frequent exposure to sounds greater than 85 decibels (dB), and is different from conductive hearing loss, which results from damage build up of ear wax, ear disorders, or a punctured ear drum. Noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented by using the decibel guide below to regulate exposure to sounds that are too loud.

Safe Sounds:
  • Daily conversation: 60 dB
  • Daily conversation: 60 dB
  • Telephone ring: 65 dB
  • Alarm clock/Motor traffic/Vacuum Cleaner: 80 dB
Dangerous Noises:
  • Lawnmower: 90 dB
  • Chainsaw/Drills: 100 dB
  • Live rock Music at a concert or club: 100 to 130 dB
  • MP3 player ear buds: 100 dB and greater
  • Sandblasting: 120 dB
  • Gunshots: 150 to 170 dB

Noise-induced hearing loss is a particular hazard for workers in jobs where perpetually loud sounds cannot be avoided. Steelworkers, musicians, construction workers, and military soldiers are just some of the professionals at risk for sensorineural hearing loss. Wearing ear plugs and ear covers can reduce exposure by up to 30 decibels for these workers. Protective gear can be bought at drug stores and hardware stores.