Bad Side Effects of iPods and MP3 Players: Tinnitus

Are iPods and MP3 players dangerous to your health? Not necessarily! But they can damage your ears and make you go deaf if you’re the kind of guy (or gal) who likes to play your iPods oh-so-loudly that your seatmate on the subway can hear the music you are playing.

Constant exposure to loud noise has been cited by the Mayo Clinic as one of the common causes of tinnitus, a condition where one hears sounds even if there’s actually no sound present. This phantom noise can range from ringing, buzzing, roaring, clicking, whistling, and hissing in your ears.

Here’s what the Mayo Clinic says about loud noises and tinnitus:

Loud noises, such as those from heavy equipment, chain saws and firearms, are common sources of noise-related hearing loss. Portable music devices, such as MP3 players or iPods, also can cause noise-related hearing loss if played loudly for long periods. Tinnitus caused by short-term exposure, such as attending a loud concert, usually goes away; long-term exposure to loud sound can cause permanent damage.

Very recently, Coldplay lead vocalist revealed that he is afflicted with tinnitus. He blames his penchant for listening to loud music when he was a teenager as the cause of his hearing problem. To not make matters worse, Chris now reportedly wears earplugs to concerts and when he is performing.

He’s now advising people to look after their ears. Says the Grammy-winning vocalist: “Looking after your ears is unfortunately something you don’t think about until there’s a problem. I’ve had tinnitus for about ten years, and since I started protecting my ears it hasn’t got any worse – touch wood. But I wish I’d thought about it earlier. Now [the band] always use moulded filter plugs, or in-ear monitors, to try to protect our ears. You can use industrial headphones, but that looks strange at a party.”

Tinnitus is actually more common than you think. About one in five people are affected according to the Mayo Clinic. According to wikipedia, other celebrities who are afflicted with this condition include Barbra Streisand, will.i.am, Leonard Nimoy, Ronald Reagan, Eric Clapton, Gerard Butler and many others.

Aside from exposure to loud music, other causes of tinnitus include the following:

  • age-related hearing loss – particularly for those aged 65 years and above
  • earwax blockage – that’s why you should clean your ears regularly
  • ear bone changes – abnormal bone growth in the middle ear (otosclerosis) that may be genetically linked
  • stress and depression – conditions are associated with tinnitus are known to aggravate it
  • head injuries or neck injuries – these injuries generally cause hearing problems in only one ear
  • medications – some medications such as antibiotics, diuretics, and cancer drugs may cause or worsen tinnitus; the condition ends when the patient stops using their drugs

Viagra may also cause some sudden hearing loss as we noted in our earlier post: Viagra Side Effects.

Should you go see a doctor or health professional if you have buzzing or hissing in your ears? Of course, you should. Well, you should if there’s no external source of said buzzing or hissing. For if there’s an actual bee buzzing near you or a snake is hissing near you, what you should do is get away from these animals as soon as possible.

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