Regulatory bodies including the National Institute for Occupational Safety (NIOSH) of the US has set 85 decibels to be the standard sound exposure limit. Such is as loud as hearing the city traffic from inside a car. Having extended exposure to anything above that is putting yourself at a greater risk of developing loss of hearing ability. Although the loss of hearing is something that can happen abruptly, in most cases, it’s seen much later in life. So, what are the indicators that headphones could be damaging your ears?
- Cranked-up volume
A study done by a UK university found that many of the disposable headphones on music players can be as loud as 120 decibels. They say this is extremely dangerous as sounds above 110dB are known to known to cause irreversible damage to nerve cells. When nerve cells become damaged in this manner, they lose their ability to deliver electric signals between the ear and the brain. Talk about permanent and irreversible ear damage.
The problem gets worse especially when you are referring to children and teens. The damage from loud music to these groups of people can be as bad as the permanent loss of hearing. In small children, even a slight loss in hearing is a precursor to delays in developing language and speech. At very high sound levels, you can lose your hearing ability in less than 2 hours. As a rule, try to listen out to what’s going on around you, and if you can’t hear anything, then the volume is just too high and will damage your ears.
- Prolonged exposure
It’s advisable that when using your MP3 device, you keep the volume at not more than 60 percent. As for the duration, listening to music through your earphones for longer than 60 minutes a day can be very detrimental. If you want to extend the period of listening, ensure you put the volume at shallow levels is the way to go. Ensure you limit your amount if you want to have longer hours of listening to your favorite music.
- Signs of hearing loss
Loss of hearing due to the use of headphones is usually a slow and creeping process that comes without warning signs. It’s important that you go for a medical examination and hearing test to have the extent of the damage diagnosed. You need the immediate attention of a physician if you have any of the following signs:
- Buzzing, roaring, ringing, and hissing in the ear.
- Problems comprehending speech in places with acoustics and other noisy places.
- Muffled sounds that leave you feeling like your ear is plugged can lead to listening to the radio or TV at a higher volume than before.
- Ways to prevent hearing loss due to disposable headphones
- No one is suggesting that you discard those earphones. After all, you still need to listen to good music. Here are ways to enjoy listening to your music while protecting your hearing ability:
- Your volume should never exceed 60 percent of the maximum volume. It helps that some music players have the capacity to warn you when you are going over and above the recommended volume. At 120dB volume, your ears can be damaged in just a short time.
- Limit the time you listen to the music through disposable earphones to only 60 minutes a day. It will ensure that your ears get a break, a time during which they get to retune to normalcy. You may require a little bit of discipline to carry out this, though.
- Using noise canceling headphones is a good way of limiting noise exposure to your ears. No wonder they are liked by DJs and sound engineers. Use this kind of headphones block out sound from the environment to allow you only to hear clear audio. The desire to turn up the volume to increase the quality of the sound is significantly diminished.
- Using over-the-ear headphones. Earphones that sit on your ear rather than in them are the best at reducing ear damage. Compared to ear buds and canal phones, they don’t send sound directly onto the eardrum. That way, your ears are protected from damage.
- No earphones in loud places. You may be tempted to turn up the volume when you are in such an environment. So, ensure you find a quiet place where you can listen to music at a safe volume.