Many of us spend a lot of time listening to music on our headphones, whether at work or walking through Santa Fe River Park West.
While listening to headphones or buds responsibly is perfectly safe, listening at a high volume for long periods of time can damage your ears and lead to problems like tinnitus.
What Are the Symptoms of Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a common problem affecting millions of Americans. It’s experienced as ringing or other noise in one, or sometimes both, ears. The vast majority of tinnitus cases are subjective, meaning the sound can’t be heard by anyone else.
Tinnitus is a symptom of many other conditions. One of the most common causes is hearing loss.
Listening to Loud Music Can Cause Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
Prolonged exposure to noises over 85 decibels (dB) can damage the hair cells in your inner ear and lead to permanent hearing loss. Because hearing loss can cause tinnitus, it’s possible to develop both conditions from exposure to loud sound.
Many common hobbies can reach harmful volumes, including music concerts, sporting events, riding motorcycles, and, yes, listening to music on your headphones.
Young People At Risk of Hearing Loss and Tinnitus From Loud Noise
Young people may be especially vulnerable to hearing loss and tinnitus because they are more likely to listen to music at louder volumes.
A recent study looked at the relationship between headphone usage and hearing loss in young people between the ages of 12–19. They found that 22.6% of subjects who listened to music at a high volume in noisy environments had some hearing loss. Additionally, they found that participants using in-ear headphones for more than 80 minutes per day in a noisy environment had a 4.7 times higher risk of hearing loss than those who used them for less time.
Ways to Protect Your Ears
When listening to music or other media on your headphones, consider the following to help keep your ears safe from damage:
- Safe listening levels consist of no more than 70% volume when using over-the-ear headphones and no more than 60% when using earbuds.
- Over-the-ear headphones are a safer choice than in-ear options, specifically those that are noise-canceling, as well.
- Use apps or settings on your smartphone to monitor volume levels and limit the maximum volume.
- Take regular breaks from listening.
- Schedule a hearing test right away if you experience tinnitus or signs of hearing loss.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Southwestern Hearing & Balance today.