Just about everyone wears earbuds or headphones these days. Unfortunately, the easy access comes at a cost. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 1.1 billion adolescents around the globe are susceptible to hearing loss because of their use of earbuds or headphones.
Hearing Loss Due Headphone Use
When anyone frequently uses headphones or earbuds for an extended amount of time, at high volumes, vital sections of the ear that are needed for hearing can be destroyed. Each ear has 18,000 cilia, which are microscopic hair cells that transfer sounds. These hair cells are an important part of the process. They transmit an electrical signal to the brain, which interprets it to a sound that can be distinguished by an individual.
Noise or any music that is played too loudly, can destroy these hair cells. Damage from this ultimately cause the cells to die off. As a result, the hair cells are unable to regenerate. This is what causes noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).
How Earbuds Can Cause Hearing Loss
Earbuds are basically miniature speakers that stream music directly into your ear canals. Most earbuds have poor quality, and cannot block ambient noise. They are also poor at transmitting bass sounds. This may cause listeners to increase the volume.
Out-side-the-ear headphones would be a better choice, rather than earbuds that stream music directly into the ear. They are able to support a shield between the music and the ear canal.
Better Substitutes to Avoid Hearing Loss from Headphones
There are two different types of headphones that prevent ambient noise, while preserving your hearing health to let you listen to music at safe levels:
Knowing You Safe Listening Limits
When using earbuds or headphones, you should listen to sounds at a safe level. It is recommended to listen at a maximum of 85 decibels (dB) for no longer than eight hours a day. Since most people do not own or have access to a decibel meter, they can use the 60/60 rule. Listen to music for only 60 minutes at a time, at no higher than 60 percent of your device’s maximum volume.
The loudest that most devices can reach is 115 dB. This volume can cause permanent damage to your hearing in eight to 15 minutes.
The WHO (World Health Organization) also advises people not to listen to anything with headphones on the same day they are planning to be exposed to loud noises, like at a concert or movie theater.
On Children Using Headphones
Avoid letting your children use headphones when possible. Only allow them to use headphones that give warnings about the risks for hearing loss. Parents should supervise their children to make sure they do not turn up the volume to unsafe levels. There are some devices that may have parental controls, to let adults manage the volume level of the device.