Earbud Use Could Harm Your Hearing

Earbud Use Could Harm Your Hearing

Dede Redfearn

Earbuds have become a popular way to listen to music and podcasts. Wireless earbuds are convenient when exercising or going for a walk. But even if they are everywhere, they are also more dangerous to our health than we realize.

A 2015 World Health Organization study found that earbud use increased between 1994 and 2005 by 75 percent. That study also found that individuals between the ages of 12 and 35 from middle and high-income countries were subjected to unsafe sound levels with their portable music devices.

Therefore we need to learn more about how these devices could harm our ears. Read on to learn more about the possible risks of earbuds.

How do earbuds cause a loss of hearing?

As you may already know, the most common form of hearing loss occurs when exposure to sound causes damage to the sensitive hair cells of the inner ear. The longer the duration and the louder the sound, the higher the permanent damage that will result.

Earbuds can produce damagingly loud sounds that no one else can hear. Though the sounds emitted from these devices can cause permanent damage to the user, they remain silent or even inaudible to a nearby person.

The project sounds directly into the ear canal, producing a resonant chamber to enhance the sound. Even a noise of 85 decibels is enough to harm if it is heard, day after day, over long periods.

Earbuds are used to listen to music and podcasts, news, and videos. Young people tend to consume more content using earbuds, and for more extended periods. If the volume is too loud, binge-watching content could lead to hearing damage. 

Finally, wearing earbuds is a source of seriously high volumes when on public transport. If a person is wearing earbuds on a noisy train or even in the car, the volume on the device has to be raised to a level that drowns out the surrounding traffic and transport sound. The person doing so is exposed to the sounds from their device as well as from the surroundings. If you’ve ever used your earbuds in a quiet place, like home, after using them during transportation, you might have noticed how loud they suddenly appear to be.

How to use earbuds responsibly.

There are a few steps you can take even while wearing earbuds to prevent hearing loss. The two prevention strategies concern duration and volume. 

Limits on length of use: Firstly, limiting the period of use is essential. While you might feel inclined to wear your earbuds throughout the day, this amount of time is potentially the cause of irreversible ear damage. 

Limit the use of the earbud to brief sessions. Maybe you want to use your earbuds to watch a music video or have a phone call with a friend. Return to environmental sound at the end of this session. Though some are inclined to leave their buds in place for an extended period, removing them is the right move. 

Limits on volume: Of course, the other important consideration is how loud you’re listening. Although devices are configured to reach a specific volume, this level may be harmful to the ears, mainly when used over an extended period or in conjunction with a loud sound in the surroundings. 

When you’re worried that the volume may be too much, don’t hesitate to be cautious. Most aspects of hearing loss are permanent, so you can’t be too careful. As a general rule of thumb, try and listen at about 60% of your smartphone volume. Another way to check is to ask your friend to talk to you six feet away while you’re wearing your earbuds. If you can’t hear them, then the volume is probably too loud. 

Talk to a professional

If you feel that your earbuds or other devices may have caused hearing loss, do not hesitate to contact us to schedule a hearing test and consultation!

We can give you information on earbud use and provide treatment options if you have already suffered hearing loss. Remarkably, many hearing aids now contain Bluetooth technology that connects directly to your smartphones, removing separate earbuds. Contact us today to set up an appointment!