Do you like listening to music
? Do you listen on your way to work, when you’re out for a walk with the dogs, or at the gym? Maybe you ride your bike on weekends with a podcast blaring. There’s a good chance you’ve been using earbuds to listen to your programs or music, and if so, your hearing is at risk!
For both adults and children, hearing loss
due to earbuds in on the rise. Of course, earbuds are very convenient – they are small and fit nicely into your bag, and sit under a headband or helmet easily. However, they can actually be doing a lot of damage to your hearing.
Listening to loud music with earbuds can cause a host of problems. An iPod or MP3 player playing at around 70-80% volume can be around 120 decibels (dB). That’s as loud as a chainsaw! At this volume, you will sustain permanent hearing damage after just a few minutes. Do you ever listen for just 15 minutes? That’s only about 4 songs. If you listen to the whole album, or during your entire workout or commute, it’s probably at least an hour at a time. This amount of time, at these high decibels, may cause permanent damage to your hearing.
With the rise of portable electronic devices and earbuds, noise induced hearing loss has become a huge issue. Loud noises are damaging to the hair cells in your inner ear that are responsible for sending sound signals to your brain. It’s not just concert goers or those who work in noisy sectors that are at risk. It’s you, your friends, and even your kids.
The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that 1.1 billion young people risk hearing loss because of personal listening devises, and over-use of earbuds. Over time, it’s certain that this level of exposure to loud sounds will leave you with hearing loss. Damaged hearing is permanent, and once the damage is done it can’t be undone.
Hearing loss among teens today is around 30% higher than for teens in the 1980s and 90s. Poor quality personal listening devices when you were a kid probably saved your hearing. A Walkman and a pair of headphones even at full volume weren’t as loud as they are now, and back then, with less battery power, you didn’t listen to music all the time.
Today, smartphones can play music at alarming volumes that damage hearing. Earbuds put the sound very close to the eardrum, increasing volume by 5-10dB as compared to headphones. Young people are especially at risk, since most have a smartphone, tablet or iPod. They will use earbuds for hours on end to listen to music or play video games at high volumes.
Use earbuds sparingly. Earbuds don’t have sound meters, so it’s hard to know if you’re within the safe limit of 85dB or less. However, you could download an app for your phone that controls the volume of your music.
If you’re sitting within a couple feet of someone, and they can hear your music from your earbuds, it’s too loud. Don’t turn up the volume more than 50 or 60%! Limit your earbud time to an hour or less. An easy way to remember is the 60/60 rule. Listen at 60% volume for a maximum of 60 minutes at a time.
Investing in a good set of noise-canceling headphones could be the answer. Noise-canceling headphones
will block out street and traffic noise, so when you listen in noise you won’t feel the need to increase the volume. It’s also possible to find decibel restricting headphones made especially for young people, so they won’t be tempted to turn of the volume too loud.
If you are concerned about your hearing, contact us at Puget Sound Hearing! Book an appointment for a hearing test, and give those earbuds a break!