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Which Is Worse for Your Hearing: Headphones or Earbuds?

by April Maguire

Nowadays, many of us listen to music while we’re on the go, whether it’s during our daily commute or while we’re working out or doing chores around the house. When it comes to listening to music from a portable device, we’re all confronted with two basic options: headphones or earbuds. Typically, most people decide which option to go with based on personal preference and ease of use. But according to scientists, one of these options could be damaging your hearing significantly more than the other.

The Dangers of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Noise-induced hearing loss is a growing problem across the globe. Young people are particularly susceptible since many of them listen to music on portable devices. In fact, roughly 13% of teenagers in the United States suffer from noise-induced hearing loss. The problem is that the sound receptors in our ears are incredibly sensitive, and when they are exposed to sounds that are too loud for too long, these receptors become damaged. Once damaged, they stop relaying sounds properly to our brain, hampering our ability to hear.

Which Option is More Damaging?

Unsurprisingly, frequently using either earbuds or headphones can result in noise-induced hearing loss. In general, sounds in excess of 90 decibels can damage your hearing, and most MP3 players are capable of producing sounds of around 120 decibels. So no matter which option you go with, piping music directly into your ears at maximum volume is going to cause damage. However, scientists say that earbuds are even more damaging. Since earbuds are placed deeper into the ear canal, they typically add an additional 10 decibels to the amount of sound you’re already receiving. Additionally, because earbuds don’t block out ambient noise the way that headphones do, many users crank up the volume to hear their music more clearly.

How Can Hearing Loss Be Prevented?

If you want to avoid hearing loss while using earbuds, there are a couple of simple rules to follow. The easiest to remember is the 60/60 rule. Listening to music at 60% volume for no more than 60 minutes per day can significantly reduce hearing loss. Additionally, if your music is loud enough to block out all of the surrounding noise, then chances are it’s too loud to be safe, so you should turn it down to a more reasonable volume.

Even though noise-induced hearing loss is a growing problem, many people don’t realize that they’re damaging their hearing until it’s too late. By switching to headphones and being conscious of the sound level, however, you can go a long way towards preserving your hearing.

If you or someone you know would like more information about hearing loss and how to treat it, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!

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