Hearing loss and personal music playersBMJ 2010; 340 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c1261 (Published 20 April 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1261
- Peter M Rabinowitz, associate professor of medicine and director of clinical services
- 1Yale Occupational and Environmental Medicine Program, Yale University School of Medicine, 135 College Street, New Haven, CT 06510, USA
Hearing loss affects 16% of US adults aged 20-69 and its prevalence increases with age.1 Although often subtle, the deficit impairs perception of speech and warning signals and may increase the risk of depression, accidents, and social isolation.2
The leading preventable cause of acquired sensorineural hearing loss is exposure to excessive levels of noise, which leads to irreversible loss of cochlear hair cells. Traditionally, noise induced hearing loss was a disease of adults who worked in noisy occupations or used firearms. However, concern is growing that children and young adults are developing noise induced hearing loss as a result of “environmental” overexposure to amplified music,3 especially through the use of personal music devices such as MP3 players.
As with mobile phones, the use of personal music players has grown faster than our ability to assess their potential health consequences. The reported use of these devices is high in young people—more than 90% in …