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Earbuds have become a popular way to listen to and watch music and podcasts. But even if they are ubiquitous, they are also more dangerous to our health than we realize. A 2015 World Health Organization study found that earbud use increased between 1994 and 2005 by 75 percent. That study also found that individuals between 12 and 35 from middle and high-income countries were subjected to unsafe sound levels with their portable music devices.

Therefore we need to learn more about how these devices could harm our ears. Read on to learn more about the possible risks of earbuds.

How do earbuds cause a loss of hearing?

As you may already know, the most common form of hearing loss occurs when exposure to sound causes damage to the sensitive hair cells of the inner ear. The longer the duration and the louder the sound, the higher the permanent damage.

Earbuds can produce damagingly loud sounds that no one else can hear. Though the sounds emitted from these devices can cause permanent damage to the user, they remain silent or even inaudible to a nearby person.

They project sounds directly into the ear canal, producing a resonant chamber to enhance the sound. Even a noise of 85 decibels is enough to harm if it is heard, day after day, over long periods.

Young people tend to consume more content using earbuds and for extended periods. Earbuds listen to music and podcasts, news, and videos. If the volume is too loud, binge-watching content could lead to hearing damage. 

Finally, wearing earbuds is a source of seriously high volumes when on public transport. If a person is wearing earbuds on a noisy train or even in the car, the volume on the device has to be raised to a level that drowns out the surrounding traffic and transport sound. The person doing so is exposed to the sounds from their device and the surroundings. If you’ve ever used your earbuds in a calm environment, such as at home, you’ve probably noticed how loud they become after using them on public transportation.

How to use earbuds responsibly.

You can take a few steps even while wearing earbuds to prevent hearing loss. The two prevention strategies concern duration and volume. 

Limit how long you use them for: Firstly, limiting the period of use is essential. While you might feel inclined to wear your earbuds throughout the day, this amount of time is potentially the cause of irreversible ear damage. 

Limit the use of the earbud to brief sessions: Maybe you want to use your earbuds to watch a music video or have a phone call with a friend. Stop once you have finished the song, or phone call. Though some are inclined to leave their buds in place for an extended period, removing them is the right move. 

Limits on volume: Of course, the other important consideration is how loud you listen. Although devices are configured to reach a specific volume, this level may be harmful to the ears, mainly when used over an extended period or in conjunction with a loud sound in the surroundings. 

When you’re worried that the volume may be too much, don’t hesitate to be cautious. Most aspects of hearing loss are permanent, so you can’t be too careful. As a general rule of thumb, try and listen at about 60% of your smartphone volume. Another way to check is to ask your friend to talk to you six feet away while looking at the earbuds. If you can’t hear them, the volume is probably too loud. 

Talk to a professional

If you feel that your earbuds or other devices may have caused hearing loss, do not hesitate to take a hearing test and have a consultation with a trained hearing professional.

They will prescribe the best limits for your earbud use and provide treatment options if you have already suffered hearing loss. Remarkably, many hearing aids now contain Bluetooth technology connecting directly to your smartphones, removing separate earbuds. Contact us today to set up an appointment!

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