I SAID, 'TURN THAT THING DOWN!' Blasting music can blow an eardrum. Now researchers say it can also pack enough punch to collapse a lung.

Reporting in the British journal Thorax, they describe the cases of four young men who suffered lung collapse -- the technical term is pneumothorax -- apparently triggered by loud music. Three of the men were at concerts or clubs when the collapses occurred. The fourth was in his car, which was outfitted with a 1,000-watt bass box because he "liked to listen to loud music."

A pneumothorax occurs when a small rupture in a lung allows air to leak into the space between the lungs and the chest wall. Symptoms include breathlessness and chest pain. A small, partial collapse may resolve on its own, but more severe cases require insertion of a tube to let air escape the chest cavity.

Though the report cites only a small number of patients, lead author Marc Noppen said he suspects more cases of music-induced lung collapse will be caught. Since the report's publication, he said, doctors in other countries have told him they've seen similar cases.

Noppen said he and his colleagues suspect that booming bass may be the culprit. The lungs may essentially start to vibrate at the same frequency as the bass, causing a rupture.

SHORT STORY A new study counters the belief that unusually short children and teens have social adjustment problems and fewer friends than kids of average height. The findings challenge a key reason for using human growth-hormone treatment at an early age.

In the first such study conducted in a general population, researchers at the University at Buffalo in New York assessed public school students of all heights in grades 6 through 12. The students were unaware that height was being studied.

The findings, published in Pediatrics, show that height plays no role in the number of friendships extra-short or extra-tall children have, the number of classmates who identify them as friends, their peer acceptance or social adjustment in general.

The one characteristic associated with height: perceived age. Shorter kids were said to look younger than their age. This diminished in later grades.

Lead researcher David E. Sandberg, associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics in the university's School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, said current thinking about short kids' social adjustment problems is based on experiences of children who are taken to pediatric endocrinologists. They "might not be representative of children who are just as short, or shorter, but who do not receive" testing, he said.

-- From News Services and Staff Reports