Ear buds and headphones are a great way to have your own personalized entertainment experience wherever you go. Whether you like to listen to music or watch your favorite video content on your phone, ear buds are necessary to listen to audio in a public setting.
Since ear buds are speakers inside of your ear canal, however, they can cause hearing damage, even without us realizing it. Irreversible hearing loss can result from loud noises, and if the volume goes too high for too long, you could be at risk for hearing damage. Studies have shown that as many as 1 in 5 young people may already suffer from hearing damage, because of the ubiquitous and constant use of ear buds.
Noise-induced hearing loss can occur in one of two ways: from a sudden, loud noise such as an explosion, or from ongoing exposure, such as working in a factory setting or constantly listening to loud music.
When ear buds rest in your ear canal, the sound effect can be boosted by up to 9 decibels. Since 85 decibels is the threshold for hearing damage, this extra 9 decibels may just push the sound over that limit and begin to damage your hearing.
None of this is to say that you should never wear ear buds or head phones. Here are a few suggestions to minimize damage and prevent noise-induced hearing loss from your ear buds:
- Custom ear buds can be made that fit your ear canal perfectly. This serves to effectively block out outside noise, so you don’t feel the need to increase the volume in noisy environments.
- Earbuds that fit tightly into your ear canal can serve the same purpose as custom earbuds by sealing into your ear and blocking background noise.
- Use the 60/60 rule: always keep the volume under 60% and try not to use them for more than 60 minutes per day.
- Wear “ear-muff” style headphones instead of ear buds.
- Alert young people in your life of this information; since hearing damage is irreversible, education is important.
With just a little bit of effort, you can preserve your hearing and still enjoy personal entertainment wherever you go.
Since hearing loss can progress slowly, annual hearing screenings are crucial. We may not notice these gradual changes in hearing ability on our own until damage is done.
Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.