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Doctors Urge Parents to Lower Volume Controls on Holiday Electronics

Many music players have maximum levels that could cause hearing loss

MONDAY, Dec. 21 (HealthDay News) -- If you're giving your teenager an iPod or other music player this holiday season, consider a bonus present to help their hearing: Preset the top volume level to one-half or two-thirds of the actual maximum.

That's the advice from specialists at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. They warn that sound over 85 decibels -- well short of the volume limit some music players carry -- can cause hearing loss. People are also at risk when they listen to music for too long.

"As parents, we can't hear how loud their music is when they have the earbuds in, so this is an important step," Dr. Ron Eavey, chair of the medical center's Department of Otolaryngology, said in a Vanderbilt news release. "I can tell you that if you hear the music coming from their headphones, it is too loud, but an easier way to know for sure is to preset the device. This will still allow them to listen to and enjoy their music but will safeguard against ear-damaging volume levels."

Many music players can be programmed to not allow their volume to go beyond a specified level.

Anne Marie Tharpe, professor and chair of hearing and speech sciences at Vanderbilt, said in the same release that hearing loss isn't always obvious, especially in kids. "The symptoms can initially be subtle and include difficulty hearing when there is background noise. Such losses can result in significant challenges for children in classroom settings."

More information

Learn more about hearing loss from MedlinePlus.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Vanderbilt University Medical Center, news release, Dec. 15, 2009

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