Articles | Hearing Loss

Earbuds and Hearing Loss: What's the Connection?

Earbuds at Loud Volume

Earbuds have risen in popularity among teens and adults all over the country. They have advanced immensely over the years and even come in wireless options. Earbuds are one of the main ways we listen to music and help us to focus on the song rather than the world around us. Often times, people listen to music through their earbuds at too loud of a volume. You may have heard music coming from someone else’s earbuds and wondered, can wearing earbuds lead to hearing loss?

Studies have implied that earbuds can cause hearing loss. Hearing loss isn’t caused by wearing earbuds alone, it is when they are misused that they can have negative effects on your health. Listening to music too loudly through earbuds can cause irreversible damage to your hearing ability.

Why Do People Use Earbuds?

Although there are negative effects to wearing earbuds, many people continue to use them for practical reasons. One of the main reasons people use earbuds is because they allow you to hear your music or other audio without disturbing others around you. Wearing earbuds also helps with reducing background noise. This means you may be able to pick out individual instruments and notice details in the music.

These reasons are why many people use earbuds when in a public setting, such as a train or airplane. However, this is also when earbuds can become dangerous. You may turn up the volume on your device to cancel out any noise coming from around you. This can cause the volume to be too high and potentially damage your hearing.

When Does Sound Become Dangerous?

Sounds become dangerous to our hearing when they reach 85 decibels (dB). This is the level at which noise-induced hearing loss occurs. If you’re listening to music at a loud volume to block out the noise around you, you can easily reach 100dB through your earbuds. In comparison, music played at 70% volume is playing at 85dB which goes directly into your ears. If you are in a noisy environment you may turn the volume up to make your music stand out. If the background noise is 75dB, then you may have to increase the volume to 90dB. Even though the music may not seem that loud to you, 90dB is actually very harmful to your hearing.

How You Can Prevent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

To protect your hearing and to reduce your chances of developing noise-induced hearing loss, it’s important to be proactive about your hearing health. The good news is you can still use earbuds to listen to your music. Some ways you can be proactive about your hearing include:

  • Keep your volume at a safe level, below 85dB
  • Switch out your earbuds for headphones
  • Use headphones that have a noise-cancelling feature

Don’t let noise-induced hearing loss affect your hearing ability. Keep your ears safe by listening to music at a comfortable level.

If you are concerned that you may have hearing loss, or you want to be proactive about your hearing health, visit a hearing specialist near you. A hearing specialist will diagnose any hearing loss and will help you keep your hearing safe now and for the future.

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Put Your Hearing to the Test

Sometimes, hearing loss happens so gradually that it can be difficult to notice at first. However, there are some common signs that indicate you may have hearing loss. Want some answers now? Take this short survey to determine if it's time for you to make a hearing appointment.

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Read the following statements and select “yes” if they apply to you most of the time, “sometimes” if they apply once in a while, and “no” if they don't apply at all.

I have trouble hearing the other person on the phone.

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