Many people love listening to their favorite music, podcasts or radio stations on the go. Everywhere you look, you’ll see people listening to something through their headphones or earbuds, especially now that wireless options are available.
This luxury, however, can be costly. According to the World Health Organization, 1.1 billion young people worldwide are putting their hearing at risk through unsafe listening practices – in particular, by listening to music too loudly through headphones. In fact, noise exposure is one of the most common causes of hearing loss.
How Do Headphones Cause Hearing Damage?
Headphones and earbuds cause hearing loss when worn too long, too loud or too often.
Inside the inner ear there are thousands of stereocilia, which are tiny hair cells responsible for converting soundwaves into electrical energy. This energy is then translated to the brain via the auditory nerve to be interpreted as sound.
Loud noises damage these hair cells and causes them to die, and once dead, they do not regenerate. The louder the sound, the more quickly damage can occur. Loss of hearing caused by unsafe noise levels is known as noise-induced hearing loss.
Earbuds Are Especially Dangerous
Earbuds are tiny speakers that are inserted into the ear canal. They are especially dangerous to hearing because they are often low quality, do not block out ambient sound and have poor bass. These factors cause people to turn up their music much louder than they should.
Over-the-ear headphones are usually a safer option because they provide a buffer space between the sounds they’re emitting and the ear canal. However, they can still cause damage and should be used with caution.
Safer Listening Alternatives
Noise-cancelling headphones help block ambient noise and provide better sound clarity, so you don’t feel tempted to turn up the music too loud. They work by using inverse waves to cancel out incoming background noise, especially low-frequency sounds.
Noise-isolating headphones are also safer as they create a seal around the ear that creates a physical barrier between the ear and external sounds.
No matter what type of headphones you wear, you should never turn up the volume too loud. Follow the 60/60 rule: Listen to music for no more than 60 minutes at no more than 60 percent of the device’s maximum volume. For more information about safe listening or to schedule an appointment, call ENT of Georgia today.