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Headphones and Hearing Loss

Those of us who have used headphones are aware of their innumerable benefits, but did you know that headphones can cause hearing-related issues the same way other loud noises do?

Those of us who have used headphones are aware of their innumerable benefits that include noise cancellation, more comfort, and better sound quality. But did you know that these devices can lead to hearing loss?

About 48 million fall victim to hearing problems. Of these, 20% are children, who suffer from permanent hearing loss caused by excessive noise exposure. Headphones can cause hearing-related issues the same way other loud noises do.

This does not mean that you should stop using headphones altogether. It simply means using them more responsibly.


Turn down the volume

Keep the volume low. Sound volumes between 60 and 85 decibels are fairly safe.

There is a simple test you can perform at home to find out if the volume of your headphones is louder than it should be. Take a break from wearing headphones for a couple of days. Then, plug in a pair of earplugs into your ears and sit still in a quiet setting. You will hear a faint ringing in your ears. This is your baseline level.

You can now resume using your headphones for a day or so. In the evening, try the test again. If the baseline ringing seems higher than the first time, your headphones’ volume is too loud.

A simpler test is to simply connect your headphones to a sound system at your regular volume. Hold the headphones about an arm’s length away. If you can still hear the music, then your headphones are too loud.

Another solution is to simply make a habit out of cranking down the volume every time you put on your headphones. Remember that if someone can hear your music when you have your headphones on, then the volume is way above the acceptable limit.


Keep an eye out for hearing problems

Some common problems that you might notice before any hearing issues worsen include:

  • Difficulty in hearing in loud and crowded places.
  • Muffled sounds.
  • A need to increase the volume to hear clearly.
  • A ringing, clicking, or buzzing in your ears.


Use headphones for short periods at a time

Use headphones if you must, but for short periods. Take a break every 15 minutes or so – even when you use them at a reasonably low volume.

Remember – hearing problems from headphones don’t occur overnight. The problem creeps in slowly and surely, and you won’t realize it until it’s too late.