Minimize Your Risk of Hearing Loss Through Earbud Use

by Barbara J. Feldman on February 28, 2008

Earbuds are little headphones that sit inside your ear. They are convenient because of their size, and because they do not have a band that goes over the head, so they can fit into smaller places. However, these convenient little headphones also pose a risk to your health. What risk is that? Well, they pose a threat to your hearing. Research has shown that with the emergence of MP3 devices, hearing loss among youth has skyrocketed.

So, let’s take a look at the safety risks of using earbuds, and how to keep them at a minimum:

Safety risk one: The earbud itself causes the decibel level to increase by up to nine decibels. This is the difference between an alarm clock and a lawn mower. When you listen to music you set it at a volume that is comfortable, but with the earbuds, the volume is right next to your ear, so even though the volume is the same, the decibel rating increases. So, what can you do?

Well to protect yourself against the amplified decibel rating, you can do a couple of things. First, you can set your volume level lower than you would think it ought to be, and second, you can listen for shorter periods of time.

With hearing loss, the length of time you are exposed to high decibel ratings is as important as the rating itself. For example, the occasional firework show or gun shot is very loud, but may only damage your ears as much as listening to your iPod at a loud volume for a couple hours a day.

So the rule of thumb for protecting your hearing is to never listen past 60% of volume capacity, and limit the listening time to sixty minutes at the most per day.

Saftey risk two: When an earbud does not fit snugly background noise seeps in and you crank up the volume to counteract it. So what can you do? Well to protect yourself from listening to your music louder than you should because of this, buy newer tighter fitting earbuds. You want your earbud to have as good a fit as possible because the better it fits the less extra noise you get, and thus you can listen to your music at a lower level because you won’t need to raise the volume.

Another option is to remove yourself from loud background noise places, or do not listen to music when you are in those places. The tendency to crank the music up to block out other sounds is very damaging to your hearing. So, choose a better option.

Another great option for keeping this safety risk at a minimum is to buy noise-canceling earbuds and headphones. These help cancel out background noise so that you can hear your music and still have it at a decibel level under eight five dB.
Safety risk three: Continually turning your earbuds up. This is common, our ears adjust to the volume we set them at, and get comfortable. If you constantly have music playing in your ear, your ears will adjust at the level you have the volume at so you can hear other things as well, this often leads to people turning it up at intervals. Do not do this. Remember the 60/60 rule, and follow it. A great way to help your ears adjust back so that lower volume is comfortable is to spend some time in silence each day.

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Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "Minimize Your Risk of Hearing Loss Through Earbud Use." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 28 Feb. 2008. Web. 14 Oct. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/tech/1362/minimize-your-risk-of-hearing-loss-through-earbud-use/ >.