How to prevent hearing loss from headphones or earbuds

  Posted May 30, 2019

How do headphones cause hearing loss?

Using headphones or earbuds for too long, too loudly, or too often can destroy the parts of the ear vital to healthy hearing. In each ear, there are about 18,000 cilia, which are tiny hair cells that transmit sound. Those microscopic hair cells are an integral part of the process that sends an electrical signal to the brain, which then translates to a recognizable sound.

Why are earbuds particularly dangerous to hearing?

They are essentially tiny speakers that funnel music straight into the ear canal. Yet most earbuds are low quality, incapable of blocking out ambient noise. They also tend to transmit bass poorly. Both of these factors lead listeners to turn up the volume even more.

Outside-the-ear headphones are a better option, as unlike earbuds which deliver music directly into the ear, they provide somewhat of a buffering space between the music and the ear canal. However — although headphones are a safer choice than earbuds when it comes to hearing — they are not without their drawbacks.

Like earbuds, most headphones are of low or mediocre quality and do not transmit the bass efficiently. It is worth investing in better quality headphones to improve your listening experience and protect your hearing.

Safer alternatives to prevent hearing loss from headphones

Two different kind of headphones are available that can not only help block out ambient noise, but can protect your hearing as well by allowing you to hear your music at safer levels. One option is noise-canceling headphones, which work by using inverse waves to cancel out the incoming sound. They work best at canceling out low-frequency sounds, like the hum of an engine or the rumble of traffic, but not as well as canceling out higher frequency sounds like the sound of conversation. Another option is noise-isolating headphones; they work a bit differently, by creating a seal around the ear that creates a physical barrier between the ear and the outside noise.





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