New York: More people in the US are facing hearing problems due to blaring music from headphones of their mobile phones and MP3 players, a new study has warned. Prolonged exposure to loud sounds can cause irreversible damage to the inner ear, resulting in tinnitus, hearing loss or both, researchers said.

A New York City Health Department survey has found that nearly one out of four in the age group of 18 to 44 year olds who frequently listen to loud headphones report hearing problems. The department's report showed younger adults who frequently use headphones at high volume report more hearing problems than those who use them less frequently and/or at lower volume.

Nearly one out of four adults aged 18 to 44 who report heavy headphone use say they have hearing problems and were more than twice as likely to report hearing problems than those who report light-to-moderate use or no use of headphones.

"Though hearing loss is preventable, more and more people are having trouble hearing," said New York Health Commissioner Dr Thomas Farley. "With more people regularly using headphones, the message is loud and clear – New Yorkers need to turn down the volume to protect their ears," said Farley.

The new report is based on data collected from the 2011 New York City Community Health Survey. Younger adults aged 18 to 44 are nearly three times more likely than adults 45 and older to listen to music with headphones.

Although adults aged 45 and older report more hearing problems, younger adults who frequently listen to headphones at high volume report a similar rate of hearing problems.

More than one-third (36 percent) of younger adults who report listening to music with headphones every day, of the younger adults who listen every day, 16 per cent report listening at more than half the maximum volume for four or more hours, researchers said.
Researchers said hearing loss is preventable. To protect hearing when using headphones, one should reduce the volume, limit listening time, take regular breaks and never listen at maximum volume.

They said one should know the early signs of hearing loss and ask a doctor for a hearing test if they have trouble hearing conversation, need to turn up the volumes on TV, radio or personal music players or experience ringing in the ear.

(Agencies)

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