2006_3_health_def.jpgFor a short, scary time last spring, Gothamist Health broke our iPod and found ourselves having to go to work, run errands, and jog without the blaring sounds of whatever-it-is-the-kids-are-listening-to-these-days. But a funny thing also happened, our hearing improved. We know - sounds crazy. But we were asking people to repeat themselves less and even found ourselves watching TV at a lower volume. That is, until we got a new iPod and starting shouting like cranky old men again. Turns out we weren't nuts (at least not about this).

A new NIH report released this week suggests that the iPod's design may be contributing to hearing damage. Those earbud headphones with the white, "Mug me" wires are designed very similarly to the ear pieces on your doctor's stethoscope - that is, they're contoured to direct sound directly down your ear canal like a heat-seeking missile. This is in contrast to the old-school earmuff type headphones which diluted the sound a bit. This controversy was originally sparked by a request from a Massachusetts congressman for the NIH to investigate anecdotal evidence that iPod users were losing their hearing. Although these initial findings are concerning, more research is needed before tossing out those earbuds.