With jobs, school and social events moving online over the course of the pandemic, experts have seen a rise in headphone usage. If you are not careful, your headphones could be damaging your hearing.
How Noise Affects Your Hearing
Sounds are measured in decibels (dB). Anything measuring more than 85 dB can cause damage to the delicate hair cells within the ear. These hair cells are responsible for converting sound vibrations into electrical impulses that are then sent through the auditory nerve to the brain to be interpreted. Damage to these hair cells is permanent.
In order to determine if a sound is too loud, you should follow this helpful chart put together by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD):
- Normal conversation: 60-70 dB.
- Movie theater: 74-104 dB.
- Dirt bikes: 80-110 dB.
- Music through headphones set to maximum volume: 94-110 dB.
- Sirens: 110-129 dB.
- Fireworks: 140-160 dB.
In order to tell if a sound can damage your hearing, you have to take into account how loud the sound is, how long you are listening for and the distance between the sound source and your ear.
Types of Headphones
Experts were less worried about older headphones causing hearing loss, as the bass would become distorted and the music would begin to sound bad if the volume was too high. But newer headphones use digitized sound that produce high-quality sound at any volume.
There are two types of headphones: over-ear and in-ear. In-ear models, also known as earbud style headphones, direct more sound energy into the ear than their over-ear counterparts. This makes earbud style headphones more dangerous.
How Long Can You Listen For?
Turning the volume of your headphones down is the best way to protect your hearing. According to NIDCD, headphones at maximum volume can produce sounds as loud as 110 dB. This can cause damage to the ears within 15 minutes.
If you turn the volume down low enough, experts confirm that you can listen for hours without any concern of developing hearing loss.
Whether you are listening to a live performance of your favorite band at the Art Boutikior a comedy podcast, you should follow the 60:60 rule. Listen for only 60 minutes at a time and at no more than 60% of your headphones’ maximum volume.
To learn more about protecting your hearing or to schedule an appointment with a hearing professional, contact Valley Audiology today.