Well ear plugs seem to be the answer to all our hearing-loss woes, according to this short new piece I came across on CNN. The author suggests wearing earplugs during incredibly noisy tasks as well as everyday ones, which is ok, but rather unrealistic. Who’s really going to drop hundreds on custom ear-plugs, or wear plugs during aerobics (yeah, they fall out), or during a rock concert where you want to *enjoy* the music, not muffle it. And the author also brings out the tired song and dance about earbuds/iPods being bad for your hearing (they aren’t any worse than previous technology, and aren’t bad at all if used sensibly). She also accepts at face-value Pete Townshend’s claims that headphones (and not hundreds of ridiculously loud, earth-shattering concerts) ruined his hearing.
I usually dislike popular news articles about hearing loss since they end up being alarmist and over-reliant on anecdotal evidence. The author might have noted that one way to prevent hearing loss would be to take an aspirin or vitamin E, which reduces hair cell damage in response to noise. Or that genetic hearing loss in response to a lack of connexin may be reversible, not to mention hair cell regeneration studies. Or how melanin (skin pigment) levels mean people may be more or less susceptible to hearing loss? Guess its just more fun to listen to Pete Townshend.
Ear plugs are certainly useful, but thats not the end of the story. Someone report with a bit more depth, please!