Can Headphones and Earbuds Cause Hearing Loss?

Rarely do we see a young adult in public without an earbud in their ears. Headphones are a bit more cumbersome, but teens still find them a way to escape from their surroundings. We all enjoy listening to music no matter our age, but younger people rely on music to pass the time. So, can headphones cause hearing loss since they are so close to our ears? It’s not the device itself, but how we use it.

Woman wearing headphones.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Listening to music can be relaxing, soothe our souls, or wind us up. Depends on the music. Using a headphone or an earbud is a polite way to listen without disturbing others. That’s a positive thing, and most people will tell you that they are grateful and prefer that on a train or bus.

The real questions are: how loud is too loud, and how long is too long? The truth is loud noise in general is damaging to your ears and your hearing. When you listen for too long a time and at a very loud volume, you can irreparably damage your hearing. Hearing loss occurs gradually so by the time you realize what’s happening, it may be too late.

The Key Dangers of Headphones and Earbuds

Volume is the key danger for noise-induced hearing loss. However, the duration of the exposure matters the same as the volume.

  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends listening at below 70 decibels. Even after long exposure, you won’t have any hearing loss.
  • Louder noises will cause hearing damage faster than quiet sounds.
  • Follow the 60/60 rule. Keep the volume under 60%, and avoid using them longer than 60 minutes at a time.
  • Protect your hearing by turning down the volume on your device and limiting your exposure.

Warning Signs of Hearing Loss

If you commonly hear muffled sounds, find it difficult to understand conversations in noisy places, have ringing in your ears (tinnitus), and frequently ask people to repeat what they said or to speak louder, it’s time to have a hearing exam with a professional like Coastal Ear, Nose & Throat in Savannah & Pooler, GA

Request an Audiology Appointment

Contact Coastal Ear, Nose & Throat at (912) 355-2335 if you suspect you may have hearing loss.

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