How Headphones and Earbuds Affect Your Hearing

Tune In to Your Hearing

Media and music are more accessible than ever, making earbuds and headphones essential. With the rise in technology use, it’s no surprise that there’s a rise in hearing loss. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), one in eight people in the U.S. (13%) ages 12 years and older has hearing loss in both ears.

What Hertz Your Hearing

The decibel level (sound pressure) and length of exposure determine how much damage is done to the ears. Loud music destroys the fine hairs that stimulate the auditory nerve fibers, which carry sound data to the brain. Damage to these hairs is permanent, resulting in hearing loss. Typically, 85 decibels (a bulldozer idling, for example) is where the damage begins.

Listen and Learn

Listening style affects hearing damage. A common habit among earbud wearers is to turn up the volume to shut out background noise. Larger headphones are better at canceling out ambient noise, as they fit around your ears.

Streamlined Sound

If big, clunky headphones are not your preference, try earbuds that remove the temptation to turn up the music too high. In either style, look for noise-canceling options that will block out background noise so you will not feel the need to turn music up.

Now Hear This

There are other ways to reduce the effects of loud music on your hearing. You can start by being aware — you’re halfway there by taking an interest in your hearing health and reading this material. Also, don’t believe the myth that some kinds of music are more damaging than others. Remember, what really matters are the decibels and the length of exposure. Lastly, try the 60/60 rule: Listen to your device at 60% volume for only 60 minutes. Again, it’s all about decibels and exposure.

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