Do Headphones Damage A Person’s Hearing Ability?

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In today’s time, you can see just about everyone using portable speakers like earbuds, and headphones, attached to their devices. But haven’t we heard from our elders that such loud music will likely make us deaf? Well, they are onto something.

According to the MRC Institute of Hearing Research, about one in six adults is facing hearing loss. The culprit in the young adult population could be—loud music.

According to the World Health Organization, loud music is the single biggest cause of preventable hearing loss. Personal music players can be loud—as high as 105 decibels, i.e. equivalent to holding a chainsaw at an arm’s length. This means that listening to such high sounds, for as little as fifteen minutes can start damaging your hearing.

Research shows that those who listen to loud music for longer duration i.e. between 90 and 100 dB, are at risk of developing hearing loss, and hearing impairment. Even adolescents who listened to music at moderate volume, but for more than three hours at a stretch, were likely to develop tinnitus later in life.

The culprit for these hearing disabilities can only be personal hearing devices that pump sound directly into the ear and do not allow the dispersion of sound waves, as with room speakers.

Hearing loss in children:

A recent study, concentrating on children aged 9 to 11 years found that noise-induced hearing loss was already present in this age group due to the increased use of portable music players, and loud noise hazards such as concert attendance.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss:

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is also known as partial deafness. Loud noise can damage the small hair in the inner ear (cochlea) and the ability to hear high-frequency sounds. When this type of hearing loss occurs, soft sounds with high frequency, such as crickets chirping, can no longer be heard by the affected ear(s). Mostly, this type of hearing loss is permanent.

Another common manifestation of noise-induced damage is tinnitus or ringing in the ear. This type of damage can also be permanent. As mentioned before, listening to music for longer than three hours per day can also contribute to developing tinnitus.

According to Dr. Jackie Clark, PhD, clinical professor at the University of Texas, this is likely due to not letting the ears rest in true quiet. Moreover, she thinks that even moderate volume can lead to developing this condition if the ears are not allowed to rest.

What is a safe level?

 The National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) states that at 85 dB, hearing can be damaged (headphones range from 95-105 decibels). For comparison, a normal conversation is held at 60 dB, and a concrete mixer just outside your window chugs away at 85 decibels.

Parents should be cautioned about this rising and preventable cause of hearing loss so they can guide their children about safe sound levels. They must also consult a top ENT specialist if they feel that their child could have noise-induced hearing loss.

If you are having auditory issues and would like to get a hearing test or so, then book an appointment with a top ENT specialist in Lahore, Karachi and Multan through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT professional for your concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.