With more people suffering from hearing loss than ever before, experts are seeking to identify potential causes in our day-to-day life. Many speculate that modern technology is at least partially to blame. Below is an overview of how loud sounds can cause hearing loss and how today’s technology may be contributing.
Correlation Between Noise & Hearing Loss
Inside the inner ear are stereocilia, which are tiny hair cells responsible for converting soundwaves into electrical energy. This energy is then sent to the brain via the auditory nerve to be interpreted as sound. Once these cells are damaged, they do not regenerate, leading to permanent hearing loss.
Any sound over 85 decibels (about the volume of highway traffic) can cause damage. The louder the sound, the more quickly damage can occur. For example, it takes about eight hours of exposure before sounds at 85 dB cause damage, but a sound that is 100 dB (like your headphones at max volume) can harm your hearing in just 15 minutes.
The primary culprit for noise-induced hearing loss caused by modern technology is your earbuds/headphones. Earbuds, in particular, are risky for your hearing because they channel sound directly from the speakers into your ear canals with no buffer. Low-budget headphones are slightly less dangerous since they have buffer room, but any low-fidelity headphones that have poor sound quality will cause wearers to crank up the volume to unsafe levels.
Studies show that as many as 65 percent of people who use personal music players with earbuds/headphones consistently play music louder than 85 dB.
In addition to listening to music, earbuds/headphones are often used for watching movies, TV shows and videos across social media platforms. Many of these platforms do not regulate volume output, meaning the next video you watch on your phone may play at ear-splitting levels.
Preserving Your Hearing
Instead of wearing stock earbuds that come with your phone or headphones from the drugstore, consider investing in high-fidelity noise-cancelling headphones. Because they block ambient noises and have better sound quality, you won’t have to turn up the volume as loud to enjoy your favorite media.
It is also a good rule of thumb to follow the 60/60 rule. This means you should listen to your music (or TV show, movie, etc.) on no more than 60 percent of your device’s maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes at a time.
For more information about the dangers today’s technology can pose for your hearing, or to schedule an appointment with an expert audiologist, call Arizona Hearing Specialists today.