Keep Your Ears Safer When Using Earbuds

by Barbara J. Feldman on February 27, 2008

The ever-popular earbuds used with many iPods and other MP3 players may be more stylish than the bigger and bulkier earmuff-type headphones, they can easily fit in a pocket or a backpack without a problem, and they are very convenient. However, they may also be more damaging to one‘s hearing, and can cause permanent hearing loss.

Most people who use earbuds are younger, and do not worry much about losing hearing. Many people think that losing hearing is simply a rite of passage that comes with aging, however this is not true. The more you damage your hearing, the less you hear and the sooner you will need hearing aids. Earbuds commonly lead to hearing damage.

Let’s take a look at why earbuds hurt your hearing, and how to keep your ears and hearing safer when you use earbuds:

The earbuds commonly used by iPod listeners are placed directly into the ear. This means that even if you are listening to something at a volume that is okay normally, it could be damaging with an earbud because the close contact with the ear can boost the audio signal by as many as nine decibels. Nine decibels is quite a lot, especially when anything over eighty five can cause damage. It is like going from the sound of an oven timer to the sound of a lawn mower. This problem escalates when earbuds do not fit snuggly, and background noise seeps in causing the wearer to crank the volume even higher.

Audiologists have cautioned about the potential risk of hearing loss associated with earbuds since the 1980s, and this is not a problem solely for the iPod user to worry about. However, it is a bigger problem for iPod users and other MP3 users than others generally because of the great music storage capacity and the long battery life. So, this means that people listen for longer periods of time without interruption.

Even moderately high volume can be extremely damaging if listened to for too long. For example, something at ninety decibels listened to for three hours can be as damaging as something at 150 decibels for thirty seconds. The length of time exposed plays a part in the amount of damage.

So, now that you know what dangers there are in using earbuds, let’s talk about how to protect your hearing:

One of the best ways to protect your hearing is to replace earbuds in favor of larger earmuff-style headphones. While this protective measure may be an unattractive option for many style-conscious music lovers, it is the overall best solution.
Another great protective measure is to adhere to the 60/60 rule, which simply put means never turn your volume up past 60%, and only listen to music with earbuds for a maximum of sixty minutes per day, although thirty minutes is even better.
Another protective measure is to buy newer, more snug-fitting earbuds as these are likely to be safer as they block out more background noise, and thus do not tempt you to turn the volume up as loud.
You can also get noise-canceling headphones which will allow you to listen to music for a longer extension of time, at a much lower decibel level.

Protecting your hearing should be on the forefront of your mind. If you love music, protect your hearing so that you can enjoy it for years to come.

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Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "Keep Your Ears Safer When Using Earbuds." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 27 Feb. 2008. Web. 1 Oct. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/tech/349/keep-your-ears-safer-when-using-earbuds/ >.


  • http://www.surfnetkids.com/tech/349/keep-your-ears-safer-when-using-earbuds/ Marsha;*

    Yall are all dumbass and needa get a fukkin life u fukkin loser bitch made as people…goodbye;D

  • http://www.hearbudz.com David

    I came across this product called Hearbudz that are designed to work with the standard white apple earbuds and can help lower the risk of premature hearing damage. They move the speaker to just outside of the ear canal, and they are way more comfortable to use than regular earbuds alone, and very inexpensive. They are a simple and great solution. Check ‘em out-
    http://www.hearbudz.com/#!hearbudz-home-page/mainPage

  • Steven

    Please refrain from using the word “earbuds” to refer to something that clearly has nothing to do with ear cleansing. Please use the correct phrase “earphones” as “headphones” once again implies something else, PLEASE!!!