The worldwide usage of personal listening devices (PLDs) such as mp3 players, iPods and mobile phones has exceeded hundreds of millions of units. New generation PLDs have a long battery life and are capable of producing high sound output levels. These features allow current PLD users to listen for a longer duration and at higher volume levels, thus increasing the risk of hearing loss.
It is estimated that up to 5-10% of PLD users may eventually develop some form of permanent hearing impairment after years of PLD use. Considering the fact that hundreds of millions of PLDs are sold worldwide, even if a small percentage of users were to listen at unsafe levels, this would potentially put millions at risk of hearing damage.
To date, there are very little data on usage patterns of current PLDs in Malaysia and its possible implication on listeners’ ears. We are presently studying the impact of these devices on hearing thresholds of teenagers and young adults.