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Can Earphones Cause Hearing Loss?

Can Earphones Cause Hearing Loss?

Did you know that 1 out of 5 teens experiences hearing loss? And that use of headphones and hearing loss are linked? Well, WHO estimates that around 1.1 billion young people around the world are at risk of experiencing hearing loss because of their listening habits, especially the excess use of earphones. While listening at a high volume is one of the risk factors, usage for long hours also affects the listening ability over a period of time. 

How to know what is too loud?
Normal conversations range between 60-50 decibels, whereas the maximum volume of your earphones could reach up to 120 decibels. And listening at 70-120 decibels for long hours can result in hearing loss gradually. So, if you can’t hear anything going around you while using earphones, it means that the decibel level is high enough to affect your hearing ability. 

How earphones affect hearing ability?
Be it during your workout or trying to escape the distracting noise around you, every time you increase the volume, you affect a part of your listening abilities. Read on to know how long hours of binge-listening to your playlist can affect your ears:

Tinnitus: Using earphones for longer durations can damage the hair cells in the cochlea that results in experiencing ringing, buzzing or roaring noise. 

Hyperacusis: For a lot of people, long hours of earphone usage results in higher sensitivity to even normal environmental sounds. 

Hearing loss: Long exposure of earphones with an increased volume can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss. 

Dizziness: Listening at a higher volume for long hours increases the pressure on the ear canal that causes dizziness. 

Affects the brain: Long-term use of earphones at high volume can have damaging effects on the brain. The electromagnetic waves generated by the earphones and headphones affect the insulated nerve fibres that can even result in memory impairment. 

What are the early signs of hearing loss?

  • Buzzing, hissing or roaring sound in the ears
  • Facing difficulty in understanding speech in noisy surroundings
  • Started increasing the volume of TV or radio to listen properly 
  • Hearing muffled sounds or frequently asking people to speak loudly and clearly 

Amongst these, one of the most common signs of hearing loss is ringing sensation in the ears. While hearing loss is irrecoverable in a lot of cases, with the right preventive measures, damage to the eardrums can be prevented. Here is a list of precautionary measures you can take to prevent hearing loss from earphones:

  • Try to keep the volume below 60% while using headphones or earphones 
  • Reduce your exposure to loud noise as well as the time duration of earphone use
  • Opt for noise-cancelling headphones or earphones if you wish to cover the outside noise
  • Avoid using earphones for long hours, make sure to take 5-minute breaks every hour
  • Keep your earphones clean and sanitized to restrict the risk of bacterial infections

On a final note, going for your morning walk or on your way to work, make sure that you follow the 60-60 rule- listening at a volume less than 60% and taking a break every 60 minutes to  keep your ears healthy for years to come! 

By: Navreet Kaur | on 2020-10-14

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