With vaccine rollouts, we’re beginning to see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, which means soon you can see your favorite local band play at Katy Vibes once again. But in the meantime, we’ve all turned to wearing headphones and earbuds to enjoy music, podcasts and audiobooks. But could this be damaging your hearing?
How Loud Noise Causes Hearing Loss
Within the ears are tiny hair cells called stereocilia. These cells are responsible for converting soundwaves into electrical energy, which travels via the auditory nerve to the brain to be interpreted as sound. These cells are extremely sensitive, which means loud sounds passing through the ears can permanently damage them.
Any sound over 85 dB – about the volume of passing highway traffic – can cause damage over time. The longer you’re exposed to a sound, the greater your risk of damage. So while sounds at 85 dB won’t cause damage until you’ve been exposed for eight hours or longer, sounds at 100 dB – about the max volume of headphones – can cause irreversible hearing damage in as little as 15 minutes.
Earbuds Are Especially Dangerous
Earbuds are particularly dangerous for your hearing. This is because of how close the speaker sits to your eardrum. In addition, earbuds tend to be of lower quality, requiring you to crank up the volume to hear the bass and make out the lyrics over background noise.
Noise-Cancelling Headphones Are Best
Any over-ear headphone set is going to be safer than a pair of earbuds. The best option, however, are high-fidelity noise-canceling headphones. This type of headphone is safest because not only does it provide a space buffer between the sound source and your ears, the quality is also much greater, meaning you can listen with ease without turning up the volume too loud.
Other Safe Listening Tips
When listening to music through earbuds or headphones, we recommend following the 60/60 rule: listen at no more than 60% of the device’s maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes at a time.
Once we can attend concerts again, invest in earplugs or earmuffs to keep your ears safe. Today’s Hearing offers custom-fit musician’s molds, which block dangerously loud sounds without sacrificing music quality.
For more information about safe listening or to schedule an appointment with hearing experts, call Today’s Hearing!