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Loud iPods can damage hearing, doctor warns

Hinsdale, IL – As more people head outside to enjoy the summer weather, an increasing number are doing so with their iPods or other portable music devices. This has resulted in an escalation of hearing problems. Dr. Richard Wiet, a neuro-otologist who treats patients at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital, has treated a growing number of teenage patients who exhibit hearing damage typically found in the elderly, a trend he hopes to combat with public education.

“People should realize that listening to music at high volume and for long durations is potentially dangerous because it can permanently damage your hearing,” Wiet said. “Take care when you put on your iPod and remind your children to do the same. If you can hear your child’s headphones from across the room, the volume is way too high.”

Several studies suggest that 5 to 20 percent of people who use portable music devices with over-the-ear headphones experience either tinnitus or dull hearing. Wiet encourages people to limit the volume on their portable music devices. Many portable music devices are built with automatic volume limiter systems, allowing consumers to set a maximum volume control.

“New technology allows iPod users to lock in a maximum noise level for their personal device,” Wiet said, “yet many people don’t even realize their iPods have that capability.”

Popular in-ear headphones such as the ones packaged with iPods block less ambient noise than the old-fashioned over-the-ear devices and they deliver sound more directly to the ear canal, resulting in a one-two punch for your ears. At the same volume control setting, in-ear headphones produce noise levels in the ear canal that are substantially greater than noise levels of over-the-ear headphones.

Before the new school year begins, parents are advised to take their children for hearing tests with doctors affiliated with Adventist Hinsdale Hospital’s Center for Hearing Restoration and Ear Research, founded by Wiet. Tests are particularly crucial for children who’ve had repetitive ear infections or whose family members have a history of hearing loss.

“Get a hearing test to check on your hearing,” Wiet said. “Ten percent of Americans suffer from noise-induced hearing loss.”

Physicians at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital’s Center for Hearing Restoration and Ear Research offer patients and their families a comprehensive range of diagnostic services and surgical treatments for ear and hearing problems. This includes profound deafness treated with cochlear implants, perforations of the ear drum, otosclerosis, acoustic tumors, balance disorders and facial nerve problems. Wiet and the other nationally recognized physicians who work with the center provide local patients an opportunity to receive expert services close to home. The center also participates in national clinical trials, giving patients an opportunity to be among the first to experience cutting-edge medicine.

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Adventist Midwest Health includes Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, Adventist GlenOaks Hospital, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital.  To find a physician, visit www.keepingyouwell.com.