Small ear buds could be causing bigger hearing problems



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They're really one of the first generations raised with ear buds firmly planted in their ears, and more than a billion young people are realizing they're at risk of hearing loss, thanks to small ear buds piping sound from not only media players but also their ever-present phones.

It's the constant barrage of sound from the listening devices delivering the music and other audio at a level that tops out at 120 decibels for hours that's causing the damage, the World Health Organization has found.

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Hearing loss, according to some experts, is about 30 percent higher among millennials than their counterparts in the 1980s and 1990s, the "Today" show reported.

"You had a Walkman with two AA batteries and headphones that went over your ears," Dr. Sreekant Cherukuri told NBC News.

"At high volume, the sound was so distorted, and the battery life was poor. Nowadays, we have smart phones that are extremely complex computers with high-level fidelity."

Nicole Raia, an audiologist in New Jersey, said she's seeing more tinnitus, an early sign of hearing loss, in young people, but they're not catching the constant ringing in their ears until they're in their 20s or 30s.

So what can be done? First, experts say use the 60/60 rule, meaning keep the volume under 60 percent and only listen for a maximum of 60 minutes a day.

Also use headphones, instead of ear buds, since ear buds, according to the "Today" show report, puts the sound closer to the eardrum, cranking the sound up as much as nine additional decibels.