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Page last updated at 07:14 GMT, Friday, 14 November 2008
Warning over MP3 volume levels

By Gurvinder Aujla
Newsbeat reporter

Girl listening to MP3 player

Listening to an MP3 player at its highest volume for one hour a day is enough to seriously damage people's hearing, according to a study for European politicians.

It claims being exposed to loud music could lead to people getting tinnitus, or ringing in the ears.

The condition already affects more than 3 million people in the UK and it's feared a million more are at risk.

In the gym when you are on the treadmill and your favourite song comes on I'd turn it up as loud as it goes

David Brinn has tinnitus after listening to loud music

Studies by charities working with deaf people estimate that two thirds of 16 to 34-year-olds listen to music at very high volumes without knowing the risks.

David Brinn is 33 and from Chippenham in Wiltshire.

Until a few years ago he loved listening to music on his MP3 players and would use his for around three hours a day.

He admits he would turn his up high.

"In the gym when you are on the treadmill and your favourite song comes on I'd turn it up as loud as it goes," he said.

David owned half a dozen MP3 players, buying new ones hoping they would be louder.

Three years ago doctors diagnosed him with tinnitus.

He describes his condition as a "whistle blowing" in his ear constantly, when he's eating, sleeping and working.

Hearing loss

Crystal Rolf is an ear specialist for the Royal National Institute for the Deaf (RNID).

She explains that tinnitus happens when small sensory cells in the ears get damaged after exposure to loud music over long periods of time.

At first the ringing sensation may be temporary but the damage can become permanent over time.

Tinnitus is described as a "whistle blowing" in the ear constantly
They are investigating if personal players should be forced to manufacture lower volume settings.

The study in Europe suggests one in 10 MP3 users risk permanent hearing loss, if they listen to a personal music player for more than one hour every day at high volume settings over a long period of time.

Two boys who regularly listen to music on MP3 players but didn't want to be named told Newsbeat they don't pay attention to these warnings.

One said: "It's your own body, if you wish to do that you should be allowed to. It's like smoking or drinking."

Another said: "I don't worry too much about it."

Since being diagnosed with tinnitus in his left ear David struggles to relax.

He distracts himself with background noise or music.

When he goes to bed he has to have the radio or music on all night to help him sleep.

There are steps people can take to stop music getting too loud.

Apple, who make the iPod, has software which can act as a volume limiter.

Crystal Rolf recommends investing in sound-isolating headphones which drown out background noise preventing the user from turning up the volume.

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