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I wonder if they are true fans of Def Leppard?
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I’m amazed that my older brother Ron can even hear.

In his high school days when my mom was at work and his friends were over, he would turn up the volume on the stereo hi-fi and play his “Doors” and “Beatles” LPs (that’s “long playing” for the post 8-track generation) at full volume. It sounded a bit like Van Halen doing his best Daffy Duck imitation while screaming at the top of his lungs.

It hurt so much when he did that it took me years before I’d even listen to a “Doors” or “Beatles” cassette. (For those who believe Blu-Ray is old technology and have no idea about the importance of President Richard Nixon’s secretary Mary Woods in American history, cassettes were all the rage because they were compact and used tape.)

Now data from out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports an increase in hearing loss among teens. Apparently it had been gradually increasing as a problem but then a few years ago it skyrocketed to the point one out of every five teens has sustained a level of hearing loss.

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital waded through the data and believe that the volume on iPods and other personal music players has something to do with it.

You think?

I admit to turning music up louder when I’m driving although most of the time I have tunes on it at background levels. Not the case with more than a few iPod and MP3 users I’ve encountered.

You know the ones I’m talking about. You can be standing in line in a store and the person with the iPod ahead of you is oblivious to the world while waiting. Then they will suddenly remove the ear piece and the music comes blasting out so loud they can hear it two aisles away. That can’t be good.

A study conducted by Boston audiologist Brian Fligor found that half of the 200 college students in New York he tested listened to music in excess of 85 decibels. It is akin to plugging in a vacuum or hair dryer for 45 minutes or so and putting your ear next to it.

Not everyone suffers from hearing loss from iPods cranked all the way up.

But there are teens who have indicated it comes on suddenly. And once the damage is done through the blasting of hair cells in the inner ear that turns them into scar tissue you’ve lost a bit of your hearing making it tough to comprehend people talking softly or even hearing leaves rustling.

In talking with three teens - two who listen to tunes on iPods and one with an MP3 player - all three say they like loud music. Two of them noted they play the music so loud it hurts while one of those two indicated that sometimes he has to tell friends to talk louder when they’re talking for a fairly long period of time after he’s taken the iPod ear piece out of his ear.

Using iPods and such, though, can’t be much worse than the boom box aficionados. They’re the ones that drive down the street playing brassy thumper music so loud it rattles glass windows on store fronts two blocks away.

Again, I’m not without sin. I do turn my music up when I’m driving but there is only so far you can go with music like Frank Sinatra’s “Summer Wind” and the theme song to “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” before it no longer sounds pleasant.

I tend to like the words and the melody.

I also value my hearing.