Harmful Effects of Headphones or Earphones
Many people who use headphones to listen to music, take online meetings or while watching TV, ask this question. This can also be a common question for concerned parents of kids or teens who seem to live with headphones in or on their ears.
So, what are the risks associated with the use of headphones and which ones are best to use?
Headphones (over the ear) or Earphones (in the ear)?
This comes down to personal preference. Quite often the sound is better with over the ear headphones as there is a greater dynamic range due to the size of the speaker. Where as the portability of earphones may be a factor for you to consider. Neither is “safer” for your ears so long as you use them at an appropriate level for an appropriate period of time – this is explained further below:
Active Noise Cancelling – with or without?
Active Noise Cancelling is a technology which has been around for some years. It is a built-in algorithm in many ear or headphones which can reduce the noise from the outside by up to 20dB (A) which is very significant. Not only is the outside sound softer, but we don’t need to crank up the volume as much. Most people like setting their listening volume to a level somewhat above the ambient noise level.
By reducing that noise level, we can decrease the listening level of music to even safer levels. (Be sure to keep in mind that such devices used in traffic may significantly reduce your environmental awareness and should be used with caution, if at all.)
Damaging Noise Levels:
The risk of permanent hearing loss increases the higher the volume and duration you are exposed. The loudness of sound is measured in units called decibels (dB):
• Conversation is around 60dB
• Traffic noise is generally 80dB
• A plane taking off, a motorcycle or firecrackers range from 120-140dB
• The volume on some music playing devices (such as smart phones) can reach more than 130dB.
The Australian Medical Association advises that listening to music at levels above 80dB will in fact damage your hearing. The damage will occur sooner if you continue to expose your ears to high volumes for extended periods of time because it is cumulative. This damage can occur at any age and is irreversible once it happens.
Noise induced hearing loss is preventable!
Here are some helpful suggestions to take care of your ears and protect them from permanent hearing damage, especially when using headphones.
• A good guide is that if you can’t hear someone talking to you when you have the music on in your headphones, you should turn it down.
• If headphones are used at normal conversation level (60dB – you can limit this in your devices in the settings), they do not damage the ears and can be used all day long if need be.
• Take regular breaks (every hour or so). Hearing is one of our most important senses. It connects us to people, loved ones and keeps communities connected. Take care of your hearing and if you are concerned about your hearing – please call our clinic on 9159 6122 to book a hearing assessment.