Ear Buds-Induced Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

Earbuds are useful little devices as long as they're used at low volumes. But they're basically a pair of tiny speakers that you wear inside your ears. And loud music playing that close to your eardrum can cause permanent hearing loss.

Hearing loss from earbuds is an example of a condition called noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). This kind of hearing loss is becoming more of a problem among kids and teens. Another condition that is often part of NIHL is tinnitus. This is a condition described as the perception of sound (often buzzing, ringing, or hissing) in the absence of any external stimulus. This essentially takes away the opportunity for the person to experience quiet, and can be very distressing.

Damage to the hair cells in the cochlea (this is the sensory hearing organ) results from both volume and length of exposure to sound. We are born with a fixed number of hair cells; once they are dead, they cannot be replaced, and auditory sensitivity is permanently lost.

Sound volume is measured in decibels (dB), and the level at which noise can cause permanent hearing loss begins at about 85 dB. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), being exposed to more than 85 decibels (an MP3 player at 70% of its top volume) of sound for eight hours can damage your hearing. 100 decibels of sound can start to damage a person's ears after less than half an hour!!

How to avoid harmful listening habits that can lead to permanent hearing loss??
  • Switch to headphones: headphones put the source of sound farther away from your inner ears, they also better isolate the background noise, thus enabling you to listen at a lower volume.
  • Listen at volumes lower than 85 decibels (Never turn your volume past 70 percent)
  • Take a break: listen to music with ear buds for a maximum of 60 minutes per day

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