Today, 1 in 5 teenagers will experience some form of hearing loss, a statistic that has risen about 30% in the last 20 years. A lot of this can be attributed to headphones and earphones, and their excessive use over time. Unfortunately, once your hearing is gone, it cannot come back and hearing loss can put you at risk for health issues down the road. Headphones have become such an integral part of our society, so what can be done to combat hearing loss, especially in younger children?
Limit Headphone Time
Most audiologists will recommend about an hour of use per day at 60% volume. This is known as the 60/60 rule. If you listen to music at a lower volume, you can extend that time.
Over time, as you listen to sounds, your ears will become tired. This is known as ear fatigue. But what actually happens when your ears start to fatigue? First, your ears simply don’t hear as well. If you are in a situation where you are trying to listen to audio critically, your ears not working as well can be a huge problem. This may cause you to miss problems that could be corrected.
Another symptom of ear fatigue is physical tiredness. As you are listening to music or sounds, your ears and your brain are having to process those signals. This takes a lot of energy!! The longer you listen, the more tired you will become. This could cause you to make unnecessary or incorrect decisions.
Invest in noise-cancelling headphones
It says noise-induced hearing loss can occur when you’re in a loud environment and you’re using music to cover up the noise. This is especially true when you are at a construction site, living close to the railway or airport. Noise-cancelling headphones eliminate outside noise so you won’t have to turn your volume quite as high, or you can just shut out the noise outside.
Avoid Extended Earbud Use
Completely eliminating headphones is something that is just not going to happen, nor is it something that we want to happen. But there are ways that you can still listen to your music, while putting less stress on your ears. One of those ways is to avoid earbuds and opt for an over-the-ear style headphone.
First, earbuds have to go inside of your ear canal. This can lead to two main problems. First, it put the source of the sound extremely close to your eardrum. This increases the risk of damage. Secondly, earbuds can force and compact earwax in your ear canal which can be extremely painful.
Typically, over-the-ear headphones are the way to go. Not only do they allow for a better listening experience, most over-the ear headphones have some type of noise canceling feature, so you no longer have to over power the outside noise. Also, since the sound is coming from the outside of the ear, the ear's natural defenses can be used to mitigate hearing damage. This also allows for a more natural sound as well. With all of those benefits, you no longer have to crank your music up to hear it the way that you want. You may be able to reduce your listening volume by as much as 25%
Signs and Symptoms
If you think that you may have hearing damage, you should contact your doctor. They will be your best resource for limiting and preventing ear damage. If you are experiencing ringing in your ears, or having difficulty hearing speech in a noisy environment, you may be experiencing hearing damage.
As I mentioned before, hearing damage is irreversible. Once your hearing is gone, it won’t come back which makes protecting yourself even more important. Invest in good quality headphones, with active noise canceling like the B131, to lower your listening volumes. And lastly, if you’ve been in a loud environment or listening critically for a while, take a break, walk away and reset. Your ears will thank you.