'iPods, loud music may cause deafness'

Those who play their music at full blast on their daily commute are at greater risk of developing iPod-itis, claimed Dr Tony Kay, senior chief audiologist at a Liverpool hospital.

These are the people at risk going deaf in later life, warned Dr Kay, who coined the term iPod-itis to refer tinnitus or the ringing in the ears problem caused by over use of iPod.

"We all have emotional attachment to our music players but if music lovers are not careful this sustained exposure could eventually lead to complete hearing loss," Dr Kay was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

"Going out every night or working in close proximity to loud music blaring out of speakers can be extremely hazardous," he said.

"Youngsters who listen to music on personal music players do not understand the damage they are causing."

Dr Kay, who is alarmed by teenagers suffering from tinnitus because of high levels of exposure to loud music, said the number of young music lovers visiting his clinic with hearing complaints has increased dramatically in the last two years.

Usually a complaint suffered by those in middle or old age, the problem can lead to deafness if it is not carefully monitored, he said.

"In the last two decades we have seen more people in their late teens and early 20s with tinnitus because they have been exposed to music that is too loud," he said.

"Often on trains, people will turn up their music players to drown out background noise, which is hammering their ears. If you can hear the music a person is listening to three seats away, imagine how loud it must be for them."

The British Tinnitus Association in the UK has recently launched a tinnitus awareness week, and the audiologist hoped to see every clubber with safety plugs in their ears in the future.

Kay said: "Noise levels in clubs can hit around 100 decibels and anything higher than 85 can cause serious damage.

"Good ear-plugs and lower volumes don't affect the fidelity of the music - but they do help safeguard hearing.

"If the warning is heeded, clubbers can go on enjoying music for decades longer."

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