We accept the fact that loud noise exposure damages hearing. Stats show there are more people than ever with noise induced hearing loss, including teens and young adults. 20% of our teens today have a noticeable hearing loss, which is 30% more than in the 1980s.
The World Health Organization, among others, concludes that although it cannot be directly proven, headphone use could be a culprit. So heeding the warnings about loud noise, let’s start by looking at why headphones pose a threat to your hearing health.
How Does Loud Noise Damage Hearing?
The hair cells of the inner ear need to send signals to the brain when we hear a sound. But, loud noise damages these hair cells by disrupting the fluid of the inner ear. This then causes a reduction in the threshold of sounds that can be heard. When this keeps happening, more and more hearing loss occurs.
Why Blame Headphones?
Our workplaces have to protect us from loud noise exposure. We naturally limit time in loud environments – such as speeding past roadworks, or rushing a meal in a noisy restaurant, or sitting away from a crying child etc.
When it comes to music and computer games, we feed it directly into our ear canal. We even turn it up to drown out the rest of the world, and some of us frequently do this for hours. It’s the direct feed of loud noise into our ears for long periods, frequently repeated that poses the threat to hearing.
The louder the sound, the less time you should be exposed for. A daily limit guideline is…
- 95 dB, less than 4 hours.
- 100 dB, less than 2 hours.
- 105 dB, less than 1 hour.
- 110 dB, less than 30 minutes.
- 115 dB, less than 15 minutes.
- 120-plus dB, damage occurs almost immediately and causes pain.
For comparison, a soft whisper is usually measured at 30dB;
How to tell the Volume is too Loud
- You can’t hear or understand someone 3 feet away from you.
- You have to raise your voice to be heard.
- When you remove headphones, speech around you sounds muffled or dull.
- You have ringing or pain in your ears.
Protecting Your Hearing when Using Headphones
If you are going to be using headphones, these tips can help protect your hearing.
- Choose noise cancelling headphones.
- Do not use earbuds – they have no sound buffer.
- Keep the volume at around 60% of the maximum.
- Limit your time and take a ten minute break for every hour during the day to let your ears recover.
- Use both earphones.
- If you use a hearing aid – look for bluetooth headphones to regulate the volume.
Have a Question? Want to Get Your Hearing Checked? Contact Us Today!
If you’re concerned you may have impacted your hearing from prolonged headphone use, get in touch to arrange a hearing evaluation. Any damage may not be permanent and our advice may just be music to your ears.
At Hearing, Balance & Speech Center, our hearing care professionals would be happy to give you a hearing assessment. Give us a call on 203-774-5642 to arrange an appointment, or click here to request one online.