Personal Listening Devices and Hearing Loss

Personal Listening Devices and Hearing Loss

June 22, 2009 In the News

Danhauer, Johnson, Byrd, et al (2009) designed and implemented an 83-item questionnaire to evaluate college students' knowledge and practices regarding personal listening devices (PLDs) and hearing health. Six hundred and nine (609)students responded. Approximately half participated online and the other half participated using a paper-based version of the questionnaire. Approximately two-thirds of all participants were from the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), the rest were from 47 different universities across 33 states.

Among the findings; Some 66 percent of all participants owned the iPod brand of PLDs. Only 6 percent of participants did not own PLDs. Seventy-six percent of all participants use "earbuds" to listen to their PLDs. Based on a loudness scale of 1 through 10, 71 percent of participants self identified as listening at 60 percent of full volume, 50 percent of participants reported listening at 70 percent of full volume, and 25 percent listened at 80 percent of full volume or louder.

The authors noted a likely small segment of college-aged PLD users use PLDs louder or longer than may be safe, with respect to hearing and hearing loss issues. Further, they noted that the most dangerous listening scenario likely occurs while using earbuds in noise because earbuds allow background noise to mix with the signal. Therefore, the user is likely to turn up the loudness of the PLD to overcome the background noise, thus improving the signal-to-noise ratio.

Danhauer, Johnson, Byrd, et al suggest physicians, audiologists, and manufacturers (of PLDs) should work together to develop effective educational outreach campaigns for college students.

For More Information, Recommendations and References:
Danhauer JL, Johnson CE, Byrd A, DeGood L, Meuel C, Pecile A, and Koch LL. (2009) Survey of College Students on iPod Use and Hearing Health. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, Vol 20., Pages 5 to 27.

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