People of all ages are closely familiar with personal listening devices like mobile phones, MP3 players, computers, and tablets, and that’s because popping in your headphones can offer a relaxing escape from the daily hustle and bustle. However, it can also come at a great price.
Since the 1980’s, audiologists have warned that cassette-playing Walkmen and portable CD players can cause hearing loss, as reported here by the Chicago Tribune. The culprits are earbuds, and their knack for playing loud music directly into your ears, and the damage they cause is only becoming more widespread — today, people of all ages use portable music players all the time and everywhere they go.
And while you may keep the volume low, you’ll still do damage to your hearing that simply can’t be reversed. So take heed to the audiologists’ warnings, and if you find yourself straining to hear, be sure to see a doctor as soon as you can.
Pump Down the Volume
According to Stony Brook Medicine, the extent of potential hearing loss is related both to a sound’s volume, measured in decibels (dB), and the duration of time you’re exposed to it. Hearing loss happens naturally as people age, but earbuds accelerate the process considerably.
According to NBC News Today, earbuds allow audio waves to travel directly and deeply into the ear canal, where 20,000 hair cells transmit those sounds to the brain. When the sound is too loud or sustained for too long, the hair cells can get damaged and die off.
Any sound that’s louder than 85dB — roughly the level of city traffic — can be dangerous to your hearing. Oftentimes, people use their headphones to block out the noises around them, and crank up the volume to accomplish as much. While this lets you hear your music better, it only increases the total dBs headed straight into your ear.
Doctors commonly refer to the “60/60 Rule” (detailed here by the American Osteopathic Association): listen to music or play video games at no more than 60% of the maximum volume on your headset, and spend no longer than 60 minutes tuned in.
And That’s Not All…
It’s no secret that hearing loss can be caused by loud noises, but people frequently ignore another side-effect of continual earbud usage — harmful wax build up, as Apartment Therapy explains. It’s especially common in people with small ear canals, and can create a blockage that leads to discomfort and diminished hearing.
Tinnitus, or a ringing in the ears, is also a frequent side-effect of excessively loud noise, and has been increasingly observed in younger people who regularly use headphones. Tinnitus should be taken seriously, as it can lead to a number of other mental, cognitive, and physical consequences.
Time for the Doctor
It’s imperative to call a doctor if you think you’ve experienced any hearing loss. Your doctor may advise you to consult an audiologist, who will run a round of exams to determine the degree to which your hearing has been affected.
And if you’re looking for fast, affordable treatment, SingleCare is a proven resource. They connect you with an expansive network of trusted medical providers, and at reduced rates.
On average, their customers save 48% on medical treatment, and 100% of them only pay for the services they receive. SingleCare is not insurance, but instead negotiates directly with doctors to provide care on an as-need basis at an affordable rate.
Your ears have to last a lifetime, so you want to make sure they get the care they deserve. Don’t wait any longer — schedule an appointment today!
(Main image credit: Jay Boucher/flickr)