By Christine Whitmarsh, RN, BSN
Once again, a popular type of technology is increasing the already high demand for rehab therapists. Speech therapists, travel speech language pathologists and other speech therapy professionals are starting to observe a high danger of hearing loss in people who enjoy cranking the volume up on their Ipod and other MP3 players.
Media images of ultra-cool celebrities, athletes, musicians or other high profile figures, with Ipod ear buds permanently affixed to their ears have become familiar to the public. Kids in particular, who tend to look up to some of these figures as role models, may be the most prone to pop in the ear buds (to the point where some parents may feel the need to surgically extract them). Combine the celebrity effect with a young person’s developing sense of hearing and the possibility of future hearing loss is accelerated. Young people are also more likely to hang out with their MP3 players in noisy environments where they are likely to turn up the volume even more. And since standard ear buds are not very effective in blocking out background noise, the danger of hearing damage increases.
Research has shown that when sensitive eardrums are exposed to sounds greater than 90 decibels for a prolonged period of time, there is a significant risk of gradual hearing loss. The volume on MP3 players ranges between 60 and 120 decibels. The risk of hearing loss in young MP3 users is an excellent opportunity for speech therapists and travel speech therapists working in schools, to provide education and screening for hearing loss. The message that the ear bud generation needs to know: If other people can hear your tunes – they’re too loud!
Christine Whitmarsh is a Registered Nurse with a BSN from the University of Rhode Island. She is a freelance health journalist and medical writer and a contributor to Travel Nurse Source and Allied Travel Careers.