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Group Fingers Portable Music Players As Likely Cause Of Hearing Loss

More than half of high school students and over a third of adults reported at least one symptom of hearing loss, possibly due to the increased use of portable music players, earbud headphones, and other consumer technologies, a hearing association announced Tuesday.

In the survey done for the American Speech-Language-Hearing-Association (ASHA), 51 percent of high school-aged children and 37 percent of adults admit to turning up the volume on radio or TV, saying "huh?" or "what?" during normal conversation, or experiencing a ringing in the ears.

Although the survey didn't correlate causes of the hearing loss symptoms, it did find habits potentially dangerous to hearing health. For instance, two-fifths of students and adults set the volume of their iPods to high, fewer than 30 percent use headphones other than the earbud-style models included with portable music players, and large numbers listen for 1-4 hours daily.

"Louder and longer is definitely not the way to use these products," said Brenda Lonbury-Martin, ASHA's head of science and research, in a statement. "Eventually, that becomes a recipe for noise-induced hearing loss, which is permanent."

The issue of potential hearing problems stemming from iPods and other MP3 players, and the use of in-ear headphones, has been simmering for weeks. Last month, a Louisiana man filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple Computer, claiming that the iPod and its earbud headphones can cause hearing damage.

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