iPods may be threat to teenagers' hearing, warns expert

The hearing of teenagers could be jeopardised by the surging popularity of iPods and other earphone devices, an expert warned today.

Ireland’s health problems are greater than the European average, with a generation at risk because of exposure to prolonged noise, audiologist Keith Ross added.

At least one in 10 of the general population experience difficulties, with victims left to guess words and struggling to cope in background noise.

“Some of the figures are quite frightening, the proportion of people wearing earphones through their normal jobs or through listening to Walkmans and iPods,” Mr Ross said.

This is hearing awareness week and new research showed 41% of adults aged over 15 were wearing earphones regularly, with 82% of 15-24 -year-olds frequent users.

A special advice line will be open throughout this week organised by Hidden Hearing, which sells aids.

In many cases victims find it hard to understand the softer parts of words, leaving them guessing meanings. Background noise like traffic or other conversations can also impair sufferers.

Mr Ross added: “We cannot wrap ourselves up in cotton wool but we can be sensible.

“We have now realised that people like soldiers firing rifles need ear protection, road workers digging need ear protection, we have got the health and safety legislation there but we have another generation coming up and we have to make progress on this.”

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