Hearing loss is not one sudden event, but rather a gradual progression that worsens over time. While there are multiple factors that can contribute to the worsening of one’s hearing, constant exposure to loud noise is one of the most common. Today’s widespread use of headphones, by kids and adults alike, has raised a few questions about how we treat our ears and our hearing.
What Causes Hearing Loss?
Ears and hearing are some of the most delicate systems in the human body. When we hear something, the sound enters our ears and causes the internal ear drum to vibrate. The vibrations travel to the cochlea, which stimulates tiny hairs that translate the sound into information that travels through our nerves into the brain for interpretation.
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) occurs when the hair cells inside our ears are damaged, usually due to repeated or long-term exposure to loud noises.
The Danger of Headphones
A review of all scientific research compiled through 2010 found no direct link between the use of headphones and hearing loss. However, we do know enough about how the ear works to realize headphones can potentially be damaging to the inner ear.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have set the standard sound exposure limit at 85 decibels, which is about as loud as city traffic heard from inside a car. Exposure to anything more increases the chance of hearing loss. Headphones on some music players are reported to reach levels as high as 120 decibels when played at full volume.
A study of Dutch teenagers in 2010 concluded that most adolescents frequently exceed the occupational safety standards for noise exposure, resulting in a higher risk of NIHL. Even if hearing loss doesn’t immediately occur, the effects might manifest as an individual ages.
Over-the-Ear vs Earbuds
So is one type of headphone better than the other? In short, no. Over-the-ear headphones and smaller earbuds can cause similar damage. Earbuds can output a slightly higher level of sound, anywhere from seven to nine decibels, but both can reach damaging levels. The best set of headphones is one that you use at a low, comfortable volume for short periods of time.
Hearing Treatment in Florida
Experiencing hearing loss can make it difficult for anyone, child or adult, to enjoy and interact with the world around them. The certified audiologists at Davis Family Hearing offer a variety of solutions and services, including treatment therapy and assisted listening devices, to help patients regain their hearing. Contact us today for more information or to schedule an appointment.