Headphones, Ear Buds, & Hearing Loss

ear buds photo

Photo by Eric Bennett

Over exposure to loud noises has long been known to cause hearing loss. In fact, noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is the most common form of hearing loss seen in the adult and young adult population today. Since the invention of headphones, the number of individuals who experience noise-induced hearing loss has continued to rise. It is widely known that listening to loud music damages your hearing, but many teens and young adults continue to listen to their music at high volumes – partially because no one has told them that hearing loss does not heal.

Noise-induced hearing loss related to headphones is becoming more common in young adults. According to a 2010 report by the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of hearing loss among a sample of US adolescents aged 12 to 19 years was greater in 2005-2006 compared with 1988-1994.

Signs of hearing loss and steps to prevent it

The hearing loss epidemic has continued to get worse and many young adults do not even know they are beginning to show signs of hearing loss (such as tinnitus) until it is too late.

Tinnitus is a condition in which the individual hears ringing or buzzing. According to the Mayo Clinic, tinnitus is often related to inner ear damage and hearing loss. Many young adults ignore the ringing sounds they hear and continue to play their music loud. This can perpetuate the cycle of hearing loss and worsen the condition over time.

Hearing is an integral part of our lives. Hearing loss can lead to dementia and a lower quality of life as you age. Consequently, it is important to take steps to limit hearing loss while enjoying our music. As a rule of thumb, when listening to music using headphones or earbuds, limit your volume to 50% of the max volume. Additionally, if you have a choice, opt for open-ear headphones to reduce the concentration of sound waves sent to the ear. If you notice signs of hearing loss, see a hearing care professional.

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