Earbuds and Hearing Loss

Earbuds continue to grow in popularity, and these days it seems like everyone has a pair. Whether you’re listening to music to pump up your workout or listening to a podcast on public transit, earbuds make it easy to shut out the world around you. However, using your earbuds at a volume that shuts out the world can be dangerous to your hearing.

In fact, according to current research in Europe, about 10 percent of people aged 13 to 23 who listen to devices through earbuds while commuting end up with permanent hearing loss. Across the pond, in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 17 percent of Americans between 20 and 69 have hearing loss resulting from exposure to loud sounds.

girl listening to earbuds

What constitutes a loud sound? Sound is measured in decibels, and 60 to 65 decibels is about the level of a normal conversation. Crank up the lawnmower, and you’re hearing noise at about 95 to 105. If you’re listening to music through earbuds, you probably crank it up to about 80 to drown out background noise. That’s ok if you only do it for less than an hour. The level that’s dangerous to your hearing starts around 85 decibels, and that’s the level at which noise induced hearing loss can occur. With earbuds or headphones, hearing loss can sneak up on you, because while you may only have the volume up 70 percent, having something that close to your ear amplifies the sound and can make it more dangerous.

How can sound cause hearing loss, anyway? People are born with one set of tiny hair cells in the cochlea, the most sensitive part of the inner ear. These little hair cells send sound messages to the brain, but loud volume and noises can damage them. They can’t be repaired or replaced, so if they’re damaged, it can lead to permanent hearing loss. This damage to the inner ear is known as sensorineural hearing loss.

Does this mean you should give up your earbuds entirely? There’s no need to do anything rash. Just use some common sense and caution when using earbuds. Start by keeping your volume at a safe level, beneath 85 decibels. You might also consider switching out your earbuds for headphones. You’re less likely to sustain hearing loss from headphones because they encase the ear, allowing you to listen to music at a better quality without increasing the volume. Headphones with a noise-cancelling feature are even better. When you’re smart about using headphones, hearing loss can be prevented.

At Elite Hearing Centers of America, we pride ourselves on providing the highest quality service, industry leading products, and a no excuses 100% satisfaction guarantee. Founded by some of the industry’s most experienced private practice owners in the United States, we offer professional, compassionate care, providing high-quality hearing aids at affordable prices. Call us at 855-432-7354 or schedule a free hearing test and comprehensive hearing evaluation today.