Did you know that exposure to loud noise is one of the leading causes of hearing loss across all age groups? Since October is Audiology Awareness Month, we want to highlight the various ways you can protect your hearing. One essential way to do that is choosing the right pair of headphones.
What is Noise-induced Hearing Loss?
Noise-induced hearing loss occurs when the sensitive hair cells of the inner ear are damaged by loud sound. These hair cells are an essential part of the hearing process and, once damaged, cannot be repaired.
Noise-induced hearing loss can occur from a one-time exposure to an extremely loud sound, such as an explosion. However, it often occurs from listening to loud sounds 85 decibels (dB) or above for an extended period.
Many common activities can reach noise levels louder than this, such as riding motorcycles, attending concerts at the Kirkland Performance Center and listening to your headphones too loudly.
Research on Headphone Use and Hearing Loss
A 2022 study of adult participants between the ages of 20 and 40 found that subclinical hearing loss was found in 83.4% of headphone users. Participants who used their headphones for multiple reasons, such as listening to music, gaming and education, accounted for a higher proportion of hearing loss than those who use headphones for only one purpose.
Three Ways to Listen to Headphones Safely
- Choose over-the-ear headphones. The style of headphones you choose can play a part in protecting your hearing. In general, over-the-ear headphones are better than on-ear and earbuds. Over-the-ear headphones give more space for sound to reverberate, and they do a better job of blocking out ambient sound, so you don’t need to turn the volume up as loud. Quality is also important, and investing in a well-made pair of headphones will likely be more beneficial to your hearing health.
- Mind the volume level. This can seem obvious, but it’s easy to get lost in listening to the music and not be aware of the volume. A good rule of thumb is never to exceed 60% of your headphone’s maximum volume level. You can also track decibel levels on your smartphone in various health apps to ensure you aren’t listening too loudly.
- Take breaks. Remember, it’s not just how loud the noise is but also exposure time. Take breaks from listening to your headphones to give your ears a chance to rest. This is especially important if you’re listening for longer than one hour at a time.
If you have signs of hearing loss, schedule an appointment for a hearing test. Even though noise-induced hearing loss cannot be reversed, it can be treated successfully with hearing aids or other assistive listening devices.
To learn more about protecting your hearing or to schedule an appointment, call Evergreen Speech and Hearing Clinic today.