Most of us enjoy listening to music, podcasts or audiobooks through our headphones or earbuds during our commutes. However, if you’re not listening safely, you could be putting your ears at risk of permanent damage. Below we review how common noise-induced hearing loss is, how loud sounds cause damage and how to listen safely through headphones.
How Common Is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
Noise-induced hearing loss is the second most common form of sensorineural haring loss, following presbycusis (age-related hearing loss). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 40 million adults in the U.S. ages 20 to 69 have some level of noise-induced hearing loss.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 50% of people ages 12 to 35 – that is, 1.1 billion young people – around the globe are at risk of hearing loss due to prolonged, excessive exposure to loud sound, in large part thanks to headphone usage.
How Loud Sounds Cause Damage
Within the inner ear are tiny hair cells called stereocilia. These hair cells convert soundwaves into electrical energy that the brain interprets as sound. Each cell is responsible for a different frequency.
When dangerously loud sounds pass through the ear, it can damage or destroy the stereocilia, causing tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and hearing loss.
Any sound over 85 decibels (dB) can damage the stereocilia. For reference that is about the volume of passing highway traffic or a busy café.
How to Listen Safely Through Headphones
Follow our safe listening tips below:
- Follow the 60:60 rule. Listen at no more than 60% of the device’s maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes at a time.
- Set the volume to 70 dB for prolonged listening. Experts agree that this is the level where you can listen for longer durations of time. A rough indicator that a sound is 70 dB is that you don’t have to strain to hear or talk over it.
- Invest in headphones rather than earbuds. If you’re thinking of shopping for new earbuds at Micro Center Dallas, consider headphones instead, as these provide a space barrier for sound so it’s less harmful.
For more information about safe listening practices or to schedule an appointment for a hearing test, call Total Hearing Care of Dallas today.