Thursday, January 12, 2006 | Style of iPod headphones key to protecting ears | Style of iPod headphones key to protecting ears A new market for headphones is developing as concerns emerge over the possibility of hearing loss as a result of the use of portable digital music players.

The popularity of the mini-players, such as iPods, has resulted in hearing problems in young people who listen to music at loud levels for long periods of time.

'I think you are looking at a generation that will have greater problems than the previous generation,' audiologist Marshall Chasin said.

Chasin already has young patients with hearing problems. He's concerned because hearing loss is a gradual problem that eventually causes permanent damage.

The earbud headphones that come with iPods can cause hearing loss because they don't fit snugly in one's ears and let background noise seep in. Users then turn up the volume to drown out the background noise.

Chasin believes the manufacturers of the music players have a responsibility to warn their customers of the risks of using their products.

'Hearing loss is so gradual, so invisible and so subtle that I think it's incumbent on manufacturers to have warnings,' Chasin said.

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