"Though hearing loss is preventable, more and more people are having trouble hearing," Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City commissioner of health, said in a statement. "With more people regularly using headphones, the message is loud and clear -- New Yorkers need to turn down the volume to protect their ears."
A report, Hearing Problems and Headphone Use in New York City, based on data collected from the 2011 New York City Community Health Survey, found a quarter of city adults ages 18-44 who reported heavy headphone use were more than twice as likely to report hearing problems than those who report light-to-moderate use or no use of headphones.
Prolonged exposure to loud sounds can cause irreversible damage to the inner ear, resulting in hearing loss, tinnitus -- ringing in the ear -- or both, Farley said.
Although adults ages 45 and older reported more hearing problems, younger adults who frequently listened to headphones at high volume report a similar rate of hearing problems, the report said.
More than one-third of younger adults who reported listening to music with headphones listened every day. Of the younger adults who listened every day, 16 percent reported listening at more than half the maximum volume for 4 or more hours.
Prolonged exposure to loud sounds can cause irreversible damage to the inner ear, resulting in tinnitus, hearing loss, or both, Farley said.