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Say What? How to Rock Out Without Hurting Your Ears
I have a confession to make: I like music better when it's loud. And when I like a song or a band, I'm very quick to pump up the volume. I even listen to yoga podcasts more loudly than I should.
Of course, I know that this is a bad habit because it leads to hearing loss. But because I don't lead a rockstar's lifestyle (much to my constant dismay) I figure these warnings don't really apply to me.
That advice is meant for, say, Pete Townshend of The Who -- who has suffered serious hearing loss and is now warning people to turn it down on his blog. I might be more concerned if I went to concerts fairly often or even attended the ocassional jam session.
But it turns out that my hearing is now at-risk simply because I listen to my iPod or use headphones to music on my computer for several hours every day.
This habit, it seems, is actually doing regular and lasting damage to my ears. It's worse if you like loud music, obviously, but just using ear buds themselves for prolonged periods isn't good for us.
Another good tip regarding earbuds is to upgrade to a pair of the noise-cancelling kind. Researchers say that these reduce background noise, making us less likely to crank up the volume.
The experts also recommend using ear plugs. We can opt for the $1 disposable kind you buy at the drugstores or pick up slightly better ones at a music store for about $10. Or we can splurge on high-fidelity ear plugs that protect our ears, while allowing us to hear the highs and lows and hold conversations. These start at $150 and require an visit to audiologist who customizes them to your tastes.
Ear plugs, they suggest, come in handy far more often that I would have realized. Wear them when you work with power tools, mow the lawn, go to the gym, (most health clubs turn the volume up too high, according to a recent study), settle into your local multiplex to watch the latest Bond flick, attend a football game or NASCAR race, or any time the decibel level exceeds 85. That's about as loud as heavy traffic or a lawnmower.
The Center for Disease Control has an informative website on hearing loss prevention. After checking it out, I might still be tempted to turn up the volume, but now I know that it's a habit I need to kick.