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Hearing Loss Bugs 1 in 5 Americans

College Students Often Set Volumes Too High, Risking Hearing Loss, Study Finds

Personal Listening Devices and Hearing Loss

In her survey of 384 college students, Smith found that 92% used a personal listening device.

Men and non-whites were more likely to set the devices at high volumes of 75% to 100% of maximum. They were especially likely to turn up the volume when in noisy backgrounds.

However, few students reported symptoms of hearing loss. These include, for instance, difficulty hearing speech when in a crowd.

More than three-quarters said they listen with ear-bud headphones. Those who use them tend to listen at higher volumes, other research shows.

Reducing the Risk of Hearing Loss

Educating people about the dangers of noise-induced hearing loss does help, Smith says. The American Speech Language Hearing Association has its "Listen to Your Buds" campaign. It teaches youth how to use personal audio technology safely to protect their hearing.

The American Speech Language Hearing Association works with schools to deliver the message.

Lin is not involved in the campaign, but tells WebMD it is a good idea. "It's all about the length of exposure and intensity," he says of hearing loss risk. Very loud noise over a long period is especially hazardous, he says.

Smith's findings were presented at a medical conference. They should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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