How Careless Use of Earbuds Can Cause Permanent Hearing Loss

How Careless Use of Earbuds Can Cause Permanent Hearing Loss


Portable media devices have become increasingly popular over the last few decades and, with them, earbuds or in-ear headphones have become a necessity for many music lovers. When it comes to headphones and earbuds, be careful about the amount of exposure to noise pollution.

Many people have a tendency to crank up the volume to max whenever they have earbuds on. This is partly due to human nature and partly because of the poor quality of some of those devices. A substandard earbud will not cancel out outside noise and you end up needing to increase the volume so you can clearly listen to whatever is playing. This increased volume hurts the eardrums and, over time, can cause permanent hearing loss.

Sound Levels and Their Effects

These days everyone has their own personal sound system, thanks to smartphones and other handy devices. Most portable stereo sound systems on the market produce sound in the range of 90 to 115 dB, which is much more than the regular sounds a human ear is exposed to.

According to doctors, anything more than 80 dB is not ideal for a human ear drum. As a reference we will mention the volume levels of some common sounds:

  • Human whisper – 30 dB
  • Average speaking voice – 60 dB
  • Traffic – 80 dB
  • Gunshot – 100 dB
  • Firecracker – 140 dB
  • Shotgun – 160 dB
  • Rocket launching pad – 180 dB

As you can see, we are usually accustomed to sounds less than 80 dB as most of us find the traffic noise irritating. The fact of the matter is that sustained exposure to loud volumes gradually harms your eardrums, especially if you don’t give them a chance to recover.

If you are listening to 95 dB of sounds for more than four hours a day, you will experience damage.

At 100 dB, the damage will be done after just a couple of hours of exposure. At 105 dB, only an hour. If you are listening to sounds at 120 dB or more, which can happen quite easily when earbuds are on full volume, you eardrums are damaged almost immediately.

If you can hear what someone’s listening on their earphones, it means the volume is dangerously high and prolonged exposure to that can lead to permanent hearing loss (for them).

The best way to use earphones/headphones and also avoid hearing loss is to get noise cancelling headphones. They cancel out the noise around you so you don’t need to crank up the volume to the maximum. Keep the volume at a 60% level at all times and whenever possible use speakers. Your ears will thank you later in your life.

For more information on ear problems or to book an appointment, call Ear, Sinus and Allergy at (828) 438-1930 or visit 1190 Drexel Road Valdese, NC 28690.