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Protect your ears: limit iPod use

The ever-popular earbuds used with many iPods and other MP3 players may be more stylish than the bigger and bulkier earmuff-type headphones, but they may also be more damaging to one's hearing, according to a Northwestern professor.

"No one really knows for sure" the levels at which iPod users listen to music, but "what we do know is that young people like their music loud and seldom worry about any decline in hearing ability."

This danger is not confined to MP3 users, such as iPod owners. Earbuds are also used with compact disc players and Walkmans. Audiologists have cautioned about the potential risk of hearing loss associated with such devices since the 1980s. The longer battery life and the greater music storage capacity of MP3 players, in comparison to Walkmans and compact discs, however, encourage longer periods of uninterrupted music listening.

Noise-canceling headphones are another option for those who desire to listen to music for an extended period of time. These devices, while a bit more costly and more visible than earbuds, partially or fully eliminate background noise so that users do not have to crank up the volume of their music for that purpose.

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