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Hearing loss is a silent epidemic in U.S.

July 31, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Hearing loss has become a silent epidemic in the U.S. Consumer Specialist Ric Romero has some tips on how you can protect yourself from hearing loss.The use of MP3 players is having a lot to do with hearing loss. In fact, 30 percent of Americans have suffered from hearing loss because of everyday noises, including MP3 players.

Hair dryers, lawn mowers, vacuum cleaners are just some of the everyday items that are potentially loud enough to affect your hearing, according to Consumer Reports.

An estimated 30 million Americans have hearing loss. Consider a daily routine where you go to the gym in the morning, eat lunch at a noisy restaurant and then mow your lawn, all of that can add up and do damage over time.

Kids that listen to MP3 players are particularly vulnerable.

"An estimated 15 percent of American teenagers are showing early signs of hearing loss. This is very disconcerting. One reason, people have the tendency to crank MP3 players really loud to drown out ambient noise," said Nancy Metcalf, Consumer Reports.

To protect your ears Consumer Reports says that some MP3 players have a volume limiter that can be set with a password. If your player does not one you should keep your MP3 player well below maximum volume. Also you should consider ear protection.

"These little inexpensive foam ear plugs that can be bought at almost any drug store are highly effective to blocking out unwanted noise," said Metcalf.

But inserting them properly is key. You have to roll the ear plug up in your hand and then pull up your ear and slide the ear plug in. Using simple ear plugs like this can significantly reduce your risk of hearing damage.

Consumer Reports also tested noise cancelling headphones. Results show that the noise cancelling headphones and insert-type ear buds can also be helpful. They help block out the background noise that causes people to raise volumes too high.

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