How often do you use your music player? If you’re anything like most people today, you probably use it when you leave for school or for work. Depending on the traffic, you’ll probably be listening to music via earphones for at least an hour or two every day. While this does make the commute that much more bearable, the consequences you may have to deal with in the future are probably not worth it. According to a new study published in the International Journal of Audiology, harmful listening habits can rob you of your hearing earlier than you expect.

And the effects won’t show until it is far too late to do anything about it. Professor Chava Muchnik of TAU's Department of Communication Disorders in the Stanley Steyer School of Health Professions at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Sheba Medical Center, one of the study’s authors, has even said that one in four teenagers is in danger of early loss of hearing.

To test just how possible such a grim outcome is, researchers gathered 289 volunteers aged 13 to 17 and questioned them about their music listening habits, such as the length of time they listened to their MP3 players and the volume levels they preferred. Afterward, 74 of the participants were tested on said listening levels in both quiet and noisy environments. Based on the results, researchers concluded that 81 percent of teens use their MP3 players regularly. Out of these, 21 percent listen to their players for one to four hours daily while 8 percent listen to them for more than four hours.

As troubling as the results are, changing personal habits when it comes to listening to music can be a bit challenging. Unless the consequences are immediate, people seldom make the effort to change their ways. If you want to preserve your hearing for a little while longer, however, listen to the experts. Keep your music down to the European standard limit of 100 decibels. Instead of using earphones, switch to over-the-ear headphones. Unless you start protecting yourself now, there may be little use for your music player in the future.

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(Photo by steffthesheep via Flickr Creative Commons)

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