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Hearing Loss

Do Earphones or Headphones cause Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?

Headphones and earphones have become an integral part of our day-to-day lives without knowing the impact of it on our Hearing. 
One has to wonder, do headphones cause hearing loss, or is that a scare tactic to make teens take out their earphones?

However, many studies suggest that earphones cause hearing loss. This isn’t caused by using them, necessarily. Like most things, headphones can be used incorrectly and cause damage to our health. By using them too often and too loudly, we can irreparably damage our ability to hear. This is a primary concern for young people who listen to music too loudly and too frequently.

16% of the Population Worldwide suffers from Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). The Portable Cassette Players was launched in the 1980s. Since then, there has been continuous discussion on the impact that headphones and their volume levels can have on an individual’s hearing. From the 1980s to 2020, there has been tremendous growth in technology.

The primary concern with the headphones is the volume exposure that they give the ears. Earphones are capable of producing very loud levels of sound very close to the ear and hence are very dangerous. However, it must be noted that it is not always about the volume of the headphones but also the long duration for which the earphones are used. Earphones are exposed to germs also as they are exposed to too many places where they are kept. Sharing the earphones paves way for the transfer of these germs which further induces harmful effects on ears.

Today, people have completely got dependent on their mobile phones and MP3 players. Not only for their music needs but all types of listening. Thus, making earphones and headphones a basic necessity these days. People find it hard to live without it. But, listening to loud music through earphones and headphones is one of the biggest dangers to your hearing.

Contents of this Article

This article lays down the theory if headphones and earphones can cause noise-induced hearing loss. But if you suspect you have hearing loss, we have something for you, that too completely free.

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    So what exactly the problem is? 

    So what exactly the problem is?

    There are several situations where people have started using a pair of tiny speakers inside or over their ears such as:

    • When you’re traveling, you feel incomplete without listening to music or watching a video.
    • While exercising, morning walks, jogging, cycling, hard workouts in the gym do not start without putting the music ON.
    • Students find it hard to concentrate without listening to rock music while studying in the college or at home.
    • Bikers, while commuting, want to cut out themselves from all the honking and traffic noise so put loud music or podcast ON.
    • While clubbing, when loudspeaker got complaints about creating noise pollution, “Silent Disco” was introduced and now has become a new trend where people want to dance to their own choice of music.

    All of the above and similar situations where people intentionally or unintentionally have got so used to earphones and headphones. In fact that they have put their hearing power in grave danger. They have started experiencing hearing loss at a very early age.


    These devices as long as they are played at low volumes and shorter spans do not impact much. But the usage of earphones and headphones right from the time we wake up in the morning and till the time we go to bed, and for some even after they go to sleep, at a very loud volume is putting hearing ability at high risk.

    How does noise-induced hearing loss occur in the above-mentioned situations? 

    How to prevent noise-induced hearing loss?

    The human ear contains three parts – namely inner ear, middle part, outer ear. The inner ear contains tiny hair cells that send signals to our brain through vibrations. When sound is too loud and for a long duration, these hair cells lose their sensitivity to vibration. Hair cells bend
    or fold over when exposed to loud noises.

    Headphones and earphones are placed much closed to the outer ear and can produce very loud levels of sound very close to the ear. Long exposure to loud sounds through these devices can damage these hair cells resulting in a hearing loss known as Noise-Induced Hearing Loss, or NIHL.

    Unlike an injury to other body parts, hair cell damage never recovers. This type of hearing loss occurs gradually, cumulative, and without obvious warning signs. Thus in the majority of people, it goes unnoticed until it’s too late. It’s not just restricted to elderly people; instead, it is becoming more of an issue for children and teenagers.

    How to prevent noise-induced hearing loss?

    How to prevent noise-induced hearing loss?

    Don’t panic; you don’t need to snip all your headphones cords to prevent hearing loss. Making sure to keep a reasonable volume can protect your ears from hearing loss; limiting your use of these devices helps as well. It’s a smart move to wear headphones with either good passive or active noise cancellation. By reducing the external noise, you can play music at a safe level and still hear it relatively loud and clear. Besides, take time during the day to enjoy silence or quiet noise, and never fall asleep with music playing through your headphones.

    NIHL is irreversible but is preventable too just by making the following changes in headphone usage pattern. 

    • Reduce the volume and listening time. Follow “60-60 rule” – Listen at 60% of the total volume and not more than 60 minutes at a time. Take a break and give 5-10
      minutes rest to ears.
    • Choose headphones wisely. Select noise-cancelling headphones that can cut the outside noise. This enables you to listen to sound from your phone or MP3 player at a much lower volume. Also, always go for over-the-ear headphones instead of a tiny pair of in-ear earbuds. This would increase the distance between the ear and the speaker is little more thus reduces the chance of hearing loss.
    • Check with the people around you. If someone, sitting next to you or standing at an arms distance from you. If you can listen to sound coming out of your headphones. Or if you have to raise your voice while talking to them; then you immediately need to lower the volume.
    • Schedule a Hearing Test. If you have buzzing, roaring, or ringing in your ears, or natural sounds around you are muffled or distorted after you take out your
      headphones, you should immediately book an appointment with a hearing expert known as an Audiologist.

    To learn more about NIHL and safe hearing methods or to have your hearing examined at Aanvii Hearing, schedule a consultation with one of our audiologists.

    Free Hearing Assessment

      The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

      References