Hearing Loss and Earbud Use: How to Protect Your Hearing

by Barbara J. Feldman on February 28, 2008

There is no denying that listening to music via headphones, earbuds or headsets at a high volume may cause permanent hearing loss to occur. The problem with this is that once you have lost any portion of your hearing the only way to get that back is by wearing a hearing aid or even possibly having a cochlear implant. So, protecting your ears is very important. One of the big contributors to hearing loss these days is wearing earbuds, which sit inside your ears.

Let’s take a look at why this causes hearing loss, and how to protect your hearing:

Studies have shown that the louder the volume is on something you listen to, the more at risk you are for losing your hearing. Once something is over eighty five decibels, it contributes to hearing loss. When you have an earbud in, the closeness to your eardrum means that the volume is as though it was eight or nine decibels higher than it really is. The louder the volume, the less time is required before your hearing could be affected. However, sound is deceiving, as you listen to things louder and louder, your hearing comfort adjusts to that, and even if it is one hundred decibels, it may not seem that loud to you.

So, what can you do to protect your hearing when you wear earbuds, which are common headphones for iPods and other MP3 devices? Well, start by guarding against getting too comfortable with loud decibels. You can do this by setting your volume at a safe level before your hearing adapts so that it never does.

To establish a safe volume level do the following:

•Start your equipment with the volume control at its lowest setting. You probably will not be able to hear it very well.
•Slowly increase the sound until you can hear it comfortably and clearly, and without distortion. As soon as you can hear it without distortion, stop increasing the volume.
•Avoid setting the volume at any level that prevents you from hearing conversations and other similar noises around you. If occasionally you are in a loud room, you can turn it up, but never turn it past 60% of the capacity.
•Once you have established a comfortable sound level, leave it there. If you experience a ringing in your ears, discomfort or muffled speech, reduce the volume or stop listening and have your hearing checked.

Hearing experts advise that you do three things to protect your hearing if you are going to use earbuds. Those three things are as follows:

1.Limit the amount of time you use earbuds or headphones at high volume. Of course it is best to never listen at high volume, but if you are going to, just make sure it is not for more than an hour tops per day, if that. Also, if you listen to something at high volume, it is wise to spend some time in silence after to help your ears readjust.

2.Avoid turning up the volume to block out noisy surroundings. If the surroundings are noisy, a better solution is to do something else, or to move to another place. You can also buy earbuds that cancel out noise from outside, that way you do not have to turn the volume up as high in order to hear.

3.Turn the volume down if you can´t hear people speaking near you. You do not put earphones in to cancel out the rest of the world, so make sure you can still stay in touch with them. If you can’t your hearing is at risk.

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Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "Hearing Loss and Earbud Use: How to Protect Your Hearing." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 28 Feb. 2008. Web. 1 Oct. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/tech/353/hearing-loss-and-earbud-use-how-to-protect-your-hearing/ >.