How to avoid hearing loss from headphones

Damage to your ears can be caused by


the same way as other loud noises do. It can result in what is referred to as “noise-induced hearing loss”. The tiny hair cells in the inner


which are the sensory receptors to hearing, get bent down too much or too severely when exposed to loud sounds from headphones over a period of time. If enough time is provided after listening to loud sounds these hair cells can recover, if not, it can result in permanent damage.

Smita Nagaonkar, Consultant and section Coordinator, Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, Mumbai says, “In some cases, headphones need not even be extremely loud to cause damage to one’s ears. Even listening to earbuds or headphones at a moderate volume can cause problems in your hearing over time. This is because the damage to ears is just not limited to the loudness of a noise, but also by the length of exposure as well. To give a comparison, attending a concert for a long time in an open space for a long time can cause as much damage as a gunshot near the ear or explosion. Thus, the duration of the exposure matters just as much as the volume.”
New study shows that more than a billion young people are at risk of

hearing loss

due to the excessive use of audio devices like headphones and earbuds. Unfortunately, the type of hearing loss caused by over exposure to very loud noise is irreversible, making prevention paramount.

Symptoms of noise induced hearing loss

• Ringing, roaring, hissing or buzzing in the ear.
• Difficulty understanding speech in noisy places or places with poor acoustics.
• Muffled sounds and a feeling that your ear is plugged.
• Listening to the TV or radio at a higher volume than in the

How to prevent hearing loss?

A hearing test and a medical examination are the only way to truly diagnose hearing damage. Noise-induced hearing loss due to earbuds is 100% preventable if you don’t use them too long or too loudly.

Dr. Nagaonkar recommended the 60/60-minute rule: Listen to music or play a movie or video game at no more than 60% of the maximum volume. Limit the amount of time you spend with earbuds in your ears to 60 minutes.
Take appropriate breaks. There are certain situations where you can’t avoid headphone usage due to work requirements. However, we can minimise the damage by taking certain precautions.
Use noise-cancelling headphones.“Majority of the headphones users use headphones at a high volume to “escape” other background noises. One brilliant way to decrease the volume in order to protect the ears is to use headphones with noise-cancellation. These specialised devices which are becoming popular in the market block out external sounds, allowing us to enjoy our music at a lower volume without any disturbances from background noises. In addition to turning down the volume, one can also protect noise exposure,” says Dr. Nagaonkar.

Few tips to take care of your ears

Don’t use cotton buds to clean your ears.
Don’t put anything in your ear without consulting your doctor.
If you have ear pain, get it checked to receive appropriate treatment.
Ear has got its own mechanism to clean itself naturally by using ear buds. We disturb it and it fails because of excessive wax collection or not being able to clean due to some other reasons that can give symptoms.
“Ear is a very important organ as it serves an important sense of hearing. It’s a very important tool for communication. If any problem persists, don’t try to treat yourself, please visit your doctor,” advises Dr. Nagaonkar.

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