Many of us enjoy listening to music, podcasts or audiobooks through headphones to make our commutes more enjoyable, but if you’re not careful, you could be putting your ears at risk. Below we review how unsafe listening practices can cause damage to the ears and how to listen safely.
How Loud Sounds Cause Damage
Inside the cochlea are tiny hair cells called stereocilia. The stereocilia’s job is to convert sound waves into electrical energy that travels via the auditory nerve to the brain to be interpreted as sound. Each cell is responsible for converting a different frequency.
When dangerously loud sounds pass through the ears – anything over 85 dB – it can damage or destroy the hair cells. Once damaged, these cells do not regenerate, and the result is permanent sensorineural hearing loss in those frequencies.
How Common Is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
Noise damage is the second most common cause of sensorineural hearing loss, after aging (presbycusis). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 40 million adults in the U.S. between ages 20 and 69 have some degree of noise-induced hearing loss.
In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 50% of young people ages 12 to 35 around the globe – that’s 1.1. billion people – are at risk of hearing loss caused by prolonged, excessive exposure to loud noises, including music through headphones.
How to Practice Safe Listening
In order to practice safe listening habits and preserve your hearing health, we recommend following these tips:
- Follow the 60:60 rule. This rule states you should listen to music at no more than 60% of your device’s maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes at a time.
- For prolonged listening, set the volume at 70 dB. If you listen to music throughout your work day, set the volume lower, closer to 70 dB. A rough indicator that the volume is 70 dB is that you don’t have to strain to hear someone talking over your music.
- Invest in headphones. Earbuds are especially dangerous because of how close the speaker is to your eardrum. Headphones provide a greater space buffer. Noise-cancelling headphones from the Fort Myers Best Buy are ideal because you can hear better without having to crank up the volume.
For more information about safe listening or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call Gulf Coast Audiology today.