The use of headphones has become increasingly popular, especially among teenagers and young adults. It is not uncommon these days to see people walking down the street with their earphones in or at a gym with headphones on while they exercise. As you can imagine, this practice has led many to wonder, do headphones cause hearing loss?
Headphones do not just provide a way to listen to music and watch videos. They also do the same for people who work in noisy environments, such as construction workers or factory employees, by providing some protection from hazardous noise levels. But how do headphones affect your hearing? Unfortunately, there are many reasons why headphones can cause hearing loss.
This article is for you if you wonder,
- What are some other effects that using headphones have on our hearing?
- Can Headphones Cause Hearing Loss?
- Do Earbuds Cause Hearing Problems too?
- How do they cause hearing problems?
- What are some ways to prevent hearing loss from using headphones or earbuds?
In this article, we will go over every aspect of headphones causing hearing problems. We will cover prevention and treatment strategies that you can use to guard against potential hearing loss from using them too much.
A Quick Answer: Do Headphones Cause Hearing Loss?
Yes, you can get a hearing loss problem due to headphones. However, headphones do not cause hearing loss by themselves. Instead, they can contribute to the damage of your ears if you expose yourself to loud sounds for a long period of time without giving them enough rest in between uses or wearing earbuds instead.
What are Headphones, and How do they Work?
Headphones are devices that can be attached either directly or indirectly onto ears to listen to sound privately. Headphones work by converting an electrical signal into sound via speakers, then converted back into electric signals when received by our brain through eardrums. This means that there is no exposure to background noise while listening with your headphones on. It even makes it sound more clear. However, if you don’t look after your headphone equipment properly and use it excessively, it can cause medical issues.
Find Out How To Choose A Right Headphone Here.
Who is at Risk for Hearing Loss due to Headphones?
People at risk for hearing loss from using headphones include teenagers and young adults. This is because the ear canal goes through many changes during puberty, where it becomes narrower and more susceptible to damage. In addition to this, people with certain conditions such as autoimmune disorders or those who take medication that lowers immunity are also at an increased risk of developing hearing problems caused by excessive headphones.
If you have any conditions that can lower your immunity, do not listen too loud when wearing your headphones or earbuds. If your doctor prescribes medications for these medical conditions, make sure that they do not negatively affect your ears. In addition, you should consult them before continuing with listening devices to avoid possible side effects due to headphone usage.
How Can Headphoned Lead To Hearing Loss?
There are various ways in which regular headphone use can lead to hearing problems. They include:
- Exposure to Loud Noise for Long periods. As previously mentioned, the ear canal is very sensitive during puberty, and when exposed to loud noise over long periods, it can even damage your eardrums.
- In addition, although there may be no pain felt from doing this action too much as a teenager or young adult can still have irreversible effects on their hearing later on down the road due to how quickly our body changes at that age as well as having more difficulty recovering from injuries such those caused by excessive headphone usage.
- Loud music creates a lot of vibrations. If the vibrations are too intense, the hairs inside the ear canal can get damaged. It can damage the hairs inside your ear canal and even cause tinnitus (ringing in the ears.) This is especially harmful to those exposed to loud noises such as traffic sounds on their way home from work every day. In addition, people with high-frequency hearing loss often complain about having ringing in their ears due to headphone usage over an extended time.
Headphones cause hearing loss by exposing your ears to certain levels of sound for extended periods of time, damaging hair cells in the cochlea and resulting in permanent hearing problems like tinnitus or a constant ringing sensation in the ears.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the medical term for ringing in the ears. Although it happens when you do not play music too loudly, it can also be caused by ear infections and other common illnesses such as colds that affect your inner ear.
Keeping volume levels down to prevent tinnitus from appearing should always be a priority if you use them often. However, once they appear, they will continue even after going away without treatment. This means there is no cure but only ways of managing their symptoms through relaxing activities like meditation or doing mindfulness exercises at home every day, which will help alleviate stress and tension to reduce the chances of developing chronic forms of ringings in the ears headphone usage over an extended time.
Excessive Headphone Use Can Cause Ear Problems Such As Ear Infections Too. Just like any other part of our bodies, excessive use/ misuse of items such as earplugs.
Bacteria, viruses, or fungi transmitted through the air can be easily passed to your ear when you’re wearing headphones because of how closely they fit in proximity to it. This means if you do not clean them properly with anti-bacterial wipes after using them, there is a high risk of getting an infection which could lead to hearing loss due to headphones.
How Do You Tell If You Have A Hearing Loss Problem?
Various symptoms can indicate if you do have a hearing loss problem. Some of these include the following:
- Frequent complaints about not understanding what others are saying.
- Difficulty with word recognition when listening to people speaking.
- Suspicion or self-awareness of having issues following conversations due to poor auditory cues.
- Have difficulty distinguishing between background noise and foreground sounds.
- Feel like there is something wrong with your ears, but your doctor tells you otherwise.
- Experience tinnitus (ringing in the ear) more often than usual.
- Lose interest in socializing because it’s too difficult for them.
Don’t wait until you begin experiencing any of the above signs before visiting an audiologist or a doctor.
Find out the importance and uses of white noise here.
What Precautions Can Be Taken To Prevent Hearing Loss From Happening?
There are several precautions to prevent hearing problems.
Don’t Listen On Loud Volumes.
It is important to keep the volume at a moderate level. If you do not, your ears are more likely to suffer from damage because of how long you wear them and the intensity of the sounds that come through.
Take Frequent Breaks Or Listen For A Few Minutes At A Time
To avoid hearing loss problems due to headphones, it’s best to give your ear time in between listening sessions so that they can rest.
Wash Your Ears with Warm Water Regularly
Use warm water and mild soap to clean out any dirt or debris inside your ears regularly. It would help if you did this after each use and before bedtime so as not to push bacteria/dirt further in.
Do not listen to music/audio at loud volumes for long periods
People are often tempted to do this because they feel like it enhances their experience, but that is why people end up with do headphones that cause hearing loss issues in the future when they’re older.
Use Over-Ear Headphones
Using over-ear options can help you avoid experiencing them because they fit further out from the inner part of the ear canal, where most damage occurs due to how close it needs to be for quality sound transmission.
Don’t sleep with headphones on
It is important to do this because you could end up placing them too close to your ear and do not realize it. This can cause damage that will be difficult to reverse once headphones cause hearing problems.
Use foam or soft rubber tips instead of hard plastic ones on the part of the headphone that goes inside your ears as often they can irritate more than anything else over time, which may lead to infections like swimmer’s ear (otitis external) developing if proper hygiene isn’t maintained after each use.
Statistics on how many People are at A Risk of Hearing Loss due to Headphones
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, one in four teens has some form of noise-induced hearing damage. Prevalence of hearing loss due to headphones use according to the National Institute for Deafness and other communication disorders (NIDCD)
According to a 2010 study published by The Journal of the American Medical Association, approximately one-third of roughly 36 million Americans between ages 20 and 69 have permanent noise-induced hearing damage.
The most common form is high-frequency hearing loss which affects about 14% or 19 million people in that age group who report some trouble understanding normal speech when there’s background noise present.
Another seven percent reported suffering from tinnitus which causes an ongoing ringing sensation in their ears, often due to headphone usage over time(much like do earbuds cause you to lose your hearing). – NIDCD.
Expert Opinion on the Dangers of Headphones
There are many causes of tinnitus also known as ringing, buzzing or chirping in your ears. A history of hearing loss, certain medications, stress, and food triggers can worsen tinnitus.Kim Webster
Many people do not realize just how powerful sounds are until it becomes too late because they did not take precautions early.
Tinnitus is a psychophysiological thing, just like most of our percepts have a physchophysiological element. Sound is one of those.Chris Spankovich, PhD
By 2050 nearly 2.5 billion people are projected to have some degree of hearing loss and at least 700 will require hearing rehabilitation.World Health Organization (WHO)
Damage from loud noises often builds over time, That’s why we encourage people to lower the volume, move away from excessive noise, and when you can’t do that, wear earplugs or other hearing protectors.”James F. Battey, Jr. M.D, Ph.D
Conclusion: A Brief
Headphones can cause hearing problems/loss. Before using them regularly, there are many factors to consider as they can lead to various issues over time. If proper precautions aren’t taken, you could end up with permanent damage that will be difficult for you to reverse later on down the line.
The only way to prevent hearing loss is by wearing headphones responsibly. However, it has been proven that when people use their earbuds for too long, they risk experiencing significant hearing damage and even permanent deafness. You can protect your ears from the dangers of wearing earphones incorrectly by following the tips on how to wear them safely while still enjoying life’s soundtrack.
More importantly, if you have experienced any ringing in your ears or pain after using headphones, even for a short time, you should schedule an appointment with an audiologist right away. Your hearing health depends on it.
The most common culprits are personal music devices like smartphones and headphones when it comes to hearing loss. But unfortunately, many people don’t’ realize they have a problem until it is too late.
With this in mind, we challenge you to make some small changes today that will protect your hearing for life. For example, if you listen to music with earbuds or headphones on an airplane (or anywhere else), use them only at low volumes so as not to disturb others around you; choose high-quality noise-reducing earphones; limit listening time; take frequent breaks from exposure by getting away from loud sound sources when possible.
- By JAMA Head Neck Surg, Jan 2018, Prevalence, Characteristics, and Treatment Patterns of Hearing Difficulty in the United States
- By NIDCD.NIH.GOV, May 2019, Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
- By, NIDCD.NIh.GOV, Feb 2017, U.S. adults aged 20 to 69 years show signs of noise-induced hearing loss
- By, Richard L. Neitzel, Tracy K. Swinburn, Monica S. Hammer, & Daneil Eisenberg, Oct 2015, Economic Impact of Hearing Loss and Reduction of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in the United States
- By, World Health Organization (WHO), Apr 2021, Deafness and hearing loss
- By, Olga Khazan, May 2019, What Happens When You Always Wear Headphones
- By, Cathy Cassata, June 14, How Headphones, Earbuds Can Slowly Harm Your Hearing Over Time