It’s likely that you’re reading this with a smartphone in one hand and headphones in the other. Devices that facilitate basic activities like listening to music or using a telephone may, however, be harmful to your hearing.
The short answer is “Yes,” whether you’re considering Beats, AirPods, or Bose headphones. There is no doubt that listening to music via headphones or earbuds, or being exposed to any other kind of loud noise, may cause permanent hearing loss.
Exposure to loud sounds increases the movement of fluid in the inner ear, which may damage the hair cells that carry signals to the brain.
When it comes to your hearing, should you really be using headphones? Important Information, research published in 2011 in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the incidence of hearing loss among teenagers and young adults has significantly increased due to the usage of headphones and earbuds. The same may be assumed for adults who make use of these tools. The question then becomes, how can you protect your hearing from the potential damage that might result from using headphones or other audio equipment for extended periods of time?
How loud noise affects hearing
The primary risk with headphones is loudness, due to the proximity of the speaker to the ear canal. Loud sounds are harmful to the ears in general, thus you should avoid situations like these at all costs.
Vibrations of the eardrum are caused by sound waves entering the ear canal. Many tiny bones in the middle ear carry this vibration to the cochlea in the inner ear. A large number of tiny “hairs” are packed into the cochlea, a fluid-filled chamber in the inner ear. The hair cells in the cochlea are stimulated into motion when sound waves reach the organ of hearing and force the fluid inside it to vibrate. When the sound level increases, the vibrations get stronger and the hairs vibrate more.
Hearing damage occurs when hair cells become insensitive to vibration due to exposure to loud noises over an extended period of time. The cells crease or fold because of excessive noise. This is the physiological mechanism responsible for the perception of “temporary hearing loss” after exposure to very loud sounds. After being subjected to severe vibrations brought on by loud noise, the hair cells need time to recuperate.
But, there are occasions in which the cells just don’t make it back. It’s possible that they’ve been ruined beyond repair. This causes irreversible damage to the hearing. Loss of hearing due to loud noises is very difficult to repair. A damaged inner ear currently has no known treatment option.
How loud is too loud? In what range does an unacceptable volume level occur?
Sound levels over 85 dB may cause permanent hearing loss in certain people. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide:
Since they are placed so near to the ear canal, headphones and earbuds present a unique danger. Sound is amplified by as much as nine dB due to this closeness.
According to the CDC, the safe range for listening to music with headphones is between 96 and 110 decibels.
Using the original iPod earphones with an iPhone at maximum volume may cause permanent hearing loss in as little as five minutes due to the 112 decibels of sound produced. At a 60% level, the same earbuds register about 80 decibels, making them safe to listen to for a long period of time.
How long is too lengthy?
In other words, the more often you are exposed to loud noises, the more damage will be done to your hearing over time. It all adds up, whether you’re at a concert, mowing the yard, or jogging on the treadmill with your headphones on.
To avoid hearing loss, it is crucial to pay close attention to volume levels and restrict exposure durations. Your likelihood of causing harm increases the more you listen. In such a case, you should take a rest. The ears need breaks from the constant noise, therefore take off the headphones or earbuds often.
As a matter of thumb, try to limit your daily listening time to 60 minutes at 60% volume.
Sound Isolation: The Function of Headphones
The same phenomenon known as “noise-induced hearing loss” occurs while using headphones as it does when listening to other loud stimuli. Constant exposure to loud noise from headphones may permanently damage hearing by bending the cochlear hair cells too far or too sharply. Lack of rest and recuperation time might cause irreparable harm.
Yet, even moderately loud headphones might cause permanent hearing loss. Over time, even moderate-level listening with headphones or earbuds may cause permanent hearing loss. That’s because it’s not only the volume of the noise that causes damage; it’s also how long your ears are exposed to it. This is why even if a gunshot or explosion is far louder than the noise produced by a concert or power tools, your hearing might still be damaged. As important as the volume is the length of time someone is exposed to it.
Amount of Time Required Before Noise Causes Damage: Criteria for a Recommended Standard
|Noise Level||Time Before Damage||Equivalent To|
|80 dB||25 hours||Telephone Dial Tone|
|83 dB||12 hours||–|
|86 dB||.5 hours||City Traffic|
|89 dB||3 hours||–|
|92 dB||1.5 hours||Highway Traffic|
|95 dB||45 minutes||Jackhammer 50’ away|
|98 dB||23 minutes|
|101 dB||12 minutes||Hand Drill at 3’|
|104 dB||6 minutes||–|
|107 dB||3 minutes||Lawnmower at 3’|
|110 dB||1.5 minutes||–|
|113 dB =||>1 minute||Power Saw, Rock Concert|
Data via cdc.gov
As you can see, stronger sounds harm hearing quicker than quieter ones, although quiet ones may damage it over time. A 90-decibel (dB) noise, such as a loud motorbike 30 feet away, damages hearing in 3 hours. A gas lawnmower or other power equipment may harm your hearing in 5 minutes at 105 dB.
Headphones? Headphone decibel values vary, making that topic difficult to answer. Your headphones’ “loudness” depends on your phone or device’s volume and the kind and manufacturer of headphones you use.
Classic iPod earphones at 100% volume on an iPhone may reach 112dB, causing hearing loss in minutes. At 60% loudness, the identical earphones measure 80 dB, making them safe for many hours.
The closer you are to a sound, the louder it is. Several audiologists and hearing specialists prefer over-the-ear headphones over earbuds. The greater distance between speakers and ear reduces audio volume and protects hearing.
Tips for Keeping Your Ears Safe While Listening to Headphones
Preventing headphone-induced hearing impairment is easy. Most individuals need to break certain headphone habits.
Turning down gadget volume is the largest hearing protection modification you can make. Loud noise causes hearing loss. Reducing exposure protects ears.
- Incredible Sound Loved by 20 Million+ People
- Hi-Res Audio: Custom oversized 40 mm dynamic drivers produce Hi-Res sound. Life Q20 active noise canceling headphones reproduce music with extended high frequencies that reach up to 40 kHz for extraordinary clarity and detail.
- Reduce Ambient Noises By Up to 90%: Our team of engineers conducted more than 100,000 tests in real-life scenarios to fine-tune Life Q20’s 4 built-in ANC microphones and digital active noise cancellation algorithm. As a result, the hybrid active noise cancellation can detect and cancel out a wider range of low and mid-frequency noises such as cars and airplane engines.
Most individuals listen to headphones loudly to “drown out” other noises. Noise-canceling headphones protect your ears and minimize device volumes. These headphones eliminate outside noise so you may watch or listen at a lesser level.
- High-performance wireless noise cancelling headphones
- Compatible with iOS and Android devices.
- Pure adaptive noise canceling (pure ANC) actively blocks external noise
As indicated above, audiologists and otologists suggest over-the-ear headphones over earbuds. Over-the-ear headphones reduce hearing loss by increasing eardrum-to-speaker distance.
Limit Your Exposure
Reducing the listening duration and loudness protects your hearing. The “60-60 rule” suggests not listening louder than 60% of the max volume for more than 60 minutes.
If you’ve already done permanent damage to your ears due to noise from headphones, there’s a chance it won’t be possible to recover. But, it is not to say that you will be permanently hard of hearing. A hearing aid fitted by a trained audiologist may help you regain your sense of hearing and make it easier to communicate.
Oklahoma Hearing Center’s audiologists in Edmond, OKC, Norman, and Ardmore can help you choose the best hearing aid for your individual requirements and preferences. Many options for cutting-edge hearing aids are available here, and we’d be happy to assist you in making a decision. Give us a call at (405) 546-4280 or check us out on Facebook to find out more about how we can help you recover your hearing.
FAQ: facts should you know whether or whether headphones harm your hearing
Q. Does wearing headphones damage your hearing?
Headphones that go over your ears can also damage your hearing if you use them too long or play music too loudly. They’re just not as much of a risk as earbuds are: Having the source of the sound in your ear canal can increase a sound’s volume by 6 to 9 decibels — enough to cause some serious problems.
Q. Should headphones hurt my ears?
Headphones worn over or around the ear can cause pressure damage to the outside part of your ear, called the pinna. Bending or squeezing the delicate cartilage of the pinna under headphones can cause pain, and you run the risk of causing a skin abrasion that could get infected.
Q. Should headphones be safe?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) set guidelines stating that anyone exposed to sounds of 85 dB for eight hours or longer is legally required to be provided with and to wear protection, as this can put you at risk for hearing loss.