Head Phones And Hearing Damage: How Far Can It Go?

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We all enjoy jamming to our favorite song, especially with headphones on, full volume on the ipod, not caring about the world for few minutes. Music has become an integral part of our life, particularly for the youngsters who enjoy loud music and hard rock metal. Whenever I go shopping or take a walk around the park, I wear my Bose headphones on and enjoy the amazing songs of Dua Lipa and Beyonce!

This trend, is however, inviting several problems like social isolation, but most importantly it’s causing hearing disorders and hear loss in young children. I have my limits when it comes to loud music but the younger generation is not realizing the long term effects of prolonged used of headphones. The freedom to slip in your earphones/headphones, anytime and anywhere is causing problems related to hear loss and this isn’t something that we can turn a blind eye on. According to American Osteopathic Association, 1 in 5 teens today has some form of hearing disorder. Doctor Foy, an osteopathic pediatrician of California stated that,

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“Listening through headphones at a high volume for extended periods of time can result in lifelong hearing loss for children and teens.”

So How loud is Too Loud?

Human ear is a complex yet a powerful organ that can hear the sound range between 20Hz to 20KHz (0 decibels to 120decibels). A normal conversation is measured at about 60 decibels, well within levels considered safe for your hearing. Sound range above 85- 120dB can lead to ear pain and the loudness of that range can even permanently damage your ear. Nowadays with the advancement in technology, there are varieties of headphones and MP3 players that can produce sounds up to 120 dbs, some even higher than that, which is nearly equivalent to the sound produced at a rock concert. The extensive use of such high-end headphones is certainly not healthy for human ear.

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Below I’ve enlisted the loudness of the sound and it’s effect on ear as per tim (the unit of measurement is decibel):

  • At 95 dB, damage will occur after four hours of exposure per day.
  • At 100 dB, damage will occur after two hours of exposure per day.
  • At 105 dB, damage will occur after one hour of exposure per day.
  • At 110 dB, damage will occur after 30 minutes of exposure per day.
  • At 115 dB, damage will occur after 15 minutes of exposure per day.
  • At 120-plus dB, damage occurs almost immediately.

Side Effects of Loud Noise

Partial Deafness

Partial Deafness also known as Noise-induced hearing loss is one of the common problems of excessive use of headphones. This condition occurs when the hairs inside the cochlea (inner ear) get damaged by the loud sound. As a result, we might not be able to hear higher-frequency sounds like crickets chirping or low voices that might sound like a whisper. This disorder can be permanent but under proper doctor’s consultation, it can be cured.

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Tinnitus

Tinnitus is another hearing disorder that is resulted from prolonged used of headphones. A person experiences noise or ringing sensation inside the ears that’s quite bothersome and can cause problems in day-to-day life. The symptoms include ringing, buzzing, roaring, clicking or hissing noises inside the ears that sometimes interferes the normal hearing of the actual sound.

High Blood Pressure

WHO has reported that the extensive use of headphones and long exposure to loud noise can not only cause hearing loss but also other serious problems like high blood pressure. Research has shown that there’s a growing evidence between loud noise and hyperactivity, especially in children. Exposure to noise can potentially raise blood pressure as the loud noise can increase the stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline which ultimately raises the chances of cardiovascular diseases like stroke, heart failure, hypertension and heart flutter.

Permanent Hear Loss

According to the hearing specialist, David A, Schessel From Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Division,

“If you can hear the music your child is playing through their headphones outside, it means the sound is too loud and long exposure to the sound can lead to permanent bilateral sensorineural hearing loss.”

Therefore, if one is exposed to sounds greater than 90 dB for an average of eight hours per day without hearing protection, hearing loss will most likely result.

After finding out that headphones are actually not good for your ears, I’ve limited the use of my headphones and now I try to enjoy soothing music but in a tolerable volume range. After all, just like your eyes, your ears too need some rest for better functioning.

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