Can Earbuds Damage My Teen’s Hearing?

Can Earbuds Damage My Teen’s Hearing?

Earbuds, you see them all the time whether it’s for listening to music, streaming video or using the Bluetooth. They are handy and useful as long as you use them at low volumes. Remember they are essentially just mini speakers making direct contact with your ears, playing very close to your eardrums. They can damage your hearing and cause permanent hearing loss.

Here are some facts you may not have known about earbuds:

  • You’re more at risk of hearing loss if you use earbuds than over-the-ear headphones even if headphones are less attractive.
  • Earbuds play in your ear canal and can increase volume by several decimals.
  • the 60/60 rule is play at no more than 60% volume for no more than 60 minutes.
  • If the people around you can hear what you’re listening to from your earbuds, you’ve get them set too loud. The whole point is so that your neighbors don’t have to listen to what you are.

How Earbuds Damage the Ears

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. Believe it or not, earbuds can damage your hearing in the same way that things like chainsaws and motorcycles can. But the damage is all in the volume, not the size.

Chainsaws and motorcycle engines create about 100 decibels of sound. That much sound can start to damage a person’s ears after less than half an hour. An MP3 player at 70% of its top volume is about 85 decibels. Turning the volume up and listening for long periods of time can put you in real danger of permanent hearing loss.

What to Do

Noise-induced hearing loss from using earbuds usually takes a while. Because it happens gradually, a lot of people don’t know they have a problem until it’s too late.

Signs you may have hearing loss are:

  • ringing, buzzing, or roaring in your ears after hearing a loud noise.
  • muffling or distortion of sounds.

Call your doctor if you think you may be losing your hearing. The doctor may examine you and send you to see anaudiologist. The audiologist will most likely give you a series of tests to determine how much your hearing has been affected. The audiologist can also answer any questions you might have about using earbuds and about protecting your hearing.

The Right Way

“All things in moderation.” It’s true! Noise-induced hearing loss due to earbuds is 100% preventable if you use them in moderation.

So what does moderation mean when it comes to using earbuds? Doctors recommend the 60%/60-minute rule:

  • No more than 60% of the maximum volume.
  • Limit the amount of time you spend with earbuds in your ears to 60 minutes.

Loud volume in your earbuds can also increase your chances of an accident because you’re less aware of your surroundings. If you’re running on a bike path, for example, it’s hard to hear a cyclist shout, “Watch out!” when your music drowns out all other sounds. And it is never safe to wear earbuds or headphones when driving a vehicle.

Other Options?

So what can you do? Go with headphones. They’re making a comeback, becoming more stylish and popular.

Most electronics stores have entire sections devoted to headphones. The best headphones, noise-canceling headphones, help block out other noises. That way, you don’t have to turn up the volume on your music as loud to hear it well. Noise-canceling headphones may be good for studying or homework, but they’re not great choices if you need to be aware of your surroundings.

Headphones that go over your ears can also damage your hearing if you use them too long or play music too loudly. They’re just not as much of a risk as earbuds are: Having the source of the sound in your ear canal can increase a sound’s volume by 6 to 9 decibels — enough to cause some serious problems.