Do Earbuds Damage Hearing?

July 6, 2017
Do Earbuds Damage Hearing?
Do Earbuds Damage Hearing?

The popularity of modern personal audio devices has created a generation of young people wired for sound. Unfortunately, experts believe this will also lead to widespread hearing problems down the road.
Serving Warning
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 1.1 billion teens and young adults could face hearing loss due to damaging sound levels at noisy entertainment venues, such as bars, nightclubs, and sporting events. Even more frightening, WHO also named the unsafe use of personal audio devices as a major risk factor for hearing loss.
How Does Noise Damage Hearing?
The human ear is comprised of three parts that work in concert to process sound: the inner ear, middle ear, and outer ear. Part of the inner ear (cochlea) contains very small hair cells that help send information to the brain. When loud noise damages these hair cells, they can no longer accurately relay information to the brain. What's worse, unlike other parts of the body, inner ear damage does not heal.

Are Earbuds Worse than Head Phones?

When it comes to dangerous sound, volume is the number one risk factor. If you listen to traditional headphones too loudly, you are risking hearing loss. At the same time, because earbuds sit in your ear canal, they can easily increase a sound's volume by six to nine decibels. They are also especially convenient, which leads young people to use them more often.
According to experts, hearing loss among modern teens is about 30 percent higher than it was two or three decades ago. You can better protect your hearing by turning the volume down on your personal audio devices. You should also consider wearing ear plugs when visiting noisy venues.
Knowing the Signs
Many people are surprised to learn that permanent hearing damage can occur in a matter of minutes at very high volumes. Usually, however, noise-induced hearing loss can take years to develop, causing it to go unnoticed at first. That said, there are some telltale signs of damage, including:

  • Roaring, buzzing or ringing in your ears after hearing loud music or noises
  • Distorted or muffled sounds

If you or your child experiences these signs, visit your doctor or an audiologist for a closer examination.

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