Headphone excess can lead to hearing loss

March 4, 2015 10:13 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

If you follow us on facebook, you may have seen our recent post about child hearing loss due to ear buds and headphones. It’s an important issue that often goes overlooked. But research is increasingly showing how strong the effects can be, and it turns out that implanting a few minor changes can have strong positive outcomes.

Even though we’ve been listening to recorded music for decades, it is more of a risk now than in years past. This is due in part to the huge amount of choices we have now. An MP3 player can store a massive amount of audio files. Smartphones have podcast apps, radio apps, audiobook apps…there are nearly infinite ways we can listen, resulting in much longer listening periods.

Exposure to sounds over 85 decibels (which is unfortunately an average volume setting for young people) or to very high pitches can cause permanent hearing damage, and the longer the exposure, the higher the risk. When wearing headphones, a person with normal hearing should be able to hear someone who is three feet away. If they can’t, the volume should be turned down.

Being constantly plugged in also has social and mental effects.  Listening to calming natural sounds relaxes people. By embracing a quiet environment the mind is free to wander, which leads to more creativity and, in extreme cases, breakthroughs. It also allows for spontaneous social interaction because others do not feel as if they are interrupting or have to create a spectacle to get someone’s attention—and with face-to-face interactions being only the fourth most common among young people, spontaneous conversation may be a skill in great need of work.

While listening to music can help a student who struggles with ADHD, the general consensus on listening while working has mixed results. In noisy environments headphones can lead to more productivity and fewer distractions. However, when full attention is required, silence is the best bet.

Ideal headphone use relies heavily on moderation:

  • Treat “headphone time” similar to “screen time”. Experts suggest listening to headphones for no longer than 60 minutes a day.
  • Adjust device volume settings to a maximum of 60 percent.
  • Never fall asleep listening to headphones, as the music can continue to play (and possibly cause damage) long after you’ve fallen asleep. Instead, play music via a nearby stereo.
  • Use headphones instead of earbuds, as it puts less strain on your inner ear.

If you are afraid that loss of hearing has already occurred, it’s never too late to enforce safer listening measures now to prevent further damage. Larry Solow is qualified to treat hearing loss in children under 18 and can work with you and your family to explore the best hearing solutions—and discuss future precautions.

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This post was written by jsolow

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