Does the use of Headphones/ Earbuds lead to early hearing loss?

For many of us our headphones are a must have item wherever we are. We use to the extent where we can’t part from it. This habit costs us a loss of hearing, read more to find out about how using headphones harm us.

“It is important to note that people who use personal audio systems (personal listening devices/music players) linked to headphones or earbuds, so the content can be heard without disturbing others are damaging their hearing.”


Headphones and earbuds can cause hearing loss in children and young adults as they age. Children, teenagers and young adults listen to music per day at volumes exceeding the suggested public health limit. Raising the volume to the max level while listening to music or anything we like too see is a stress relief for us. But it is not the best for your hearing. Recent survey shows that high levels of noise can affect hearing loss in the future. Children, teens, and young adults may be particularly at risk if they often listen to many hours of music per day at volumes exceeding the public health limit of 70 decibels of average leisure noise exposure per day that’s recommended by The National Institutes of Health (NIH).The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 50 percent of people aged 12 to 35 are at risk of loss of hearingdue to prolonged and excessive exposure to loud sounds, such as music heard through personal audio devices.

The board chair of the Quiet Coalition, Dr. Daniel Fink says that the public doesn’t understand that hearing loss is not part of normal healthy aging, but largely due to noise-induced hearing loss. He compares this misunderstanding to the misconception that deep wrinkles and skin pigmentation are part of normal aging, whereas they largely represent solar or UV damage. “Similarly, without exposure to loud noise, we should be able to hear well into old age, something generally not true in industrialized societies,” said Fink.

Health indication of hearing loss:

Fink and audiologist Jan Mayes reviewed and merged information from multiple articles in multiple disciplines to form conclusions about personal audio system usage. It is important to note that people who use personal audio systems ( personal listening devices/music players) linked to headphones or earbuds, so the content can be heard without disturbing others are damaging their hearing.

“Especially for the young adults this can lead to hearing loss in their early to mid-40s while our grandparents experience this in their 70s and 80s.”

On top of losing some ability to communicate, hearing loss has been connected to cognitive decline(problems with memory, language, thinking.) According to a 2011 study, compared to people without hearing loss, those who had hearing loss were at risk for developing dementia(degradation in memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday activities) in the following ways:

  1. people with mild hearing loss had nearly twice the risk of developing dementia
  2. those with moderate loss had three times the risk
  3. people with severe loss had five times the risk

Mary L. Carson, Au.D, licensed clinical audiologist, said studies shows that individuals with untreated hearing loss are at a higher risk for dementia.
She advises to start taking better hearing health habits now may be an investment in your long-term health, not only by preventing hearing loss, but also reducing risk of cognitive decline and dementia as you age.

How to set healthy noise limits to prevent hearing loss?

Researchers say hearing loss from noise exposure can accumulate after one very loud exposure, or more often, slowly over time with bad hearing health habits.

Here are ways to keep your ears safe and sound:

“Keep sound to 70 dBA”
The NIH explains that sound is measured in units called decibels, stating that, “Sounds at or below 70 A-weighted decibels (dBA), even after long exposure, are unlikely to damage hearing. However, long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 dBA can cause hearing loss.”
“A very good rough indicator is that if a person has to strain to speak or to be heard over the ambient noise, that’s more than about 75 decibels,” said Fink.

  1. For devices, using your device at the 50 percent setting, as well as cutting back on your listening time.
  2. Safety options exist for earbud use, but even these options require parental or consumer monitoring.
  3. Use a sound level meter app
  4. There are many free or inexpensive sound level meter apps, which help to determine how noisy your environment is.

Wear hearing protection:

Many types of hearing protection exist that are designed to protect you from the noise you’re around. For example, musician-filtered hearing protection can help maintain the quality of music while still providing safe protection. Experts say hearing protection are available in many forms like earmuffs, foam plugs, reusable non-custom plugs, and custom fit hearing protection. Talk to your hearing health professional to get help finding the protection that’s best for your intended use.

Warning signs of hearing loss:

The first signs of hearing loss includes difficulty hearing in noisy environments and feeling like you’re hearing people, but just can’t understand what’s being said. She said tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is also often an early sign of damage to the auditory system and a warning sign for hearing loss. Get your hearing checked regularly. If you’re over age 50 or exposed to noise at unsafe levels. Experts recommend getting hearing checked annually.“If you are noticing any changes in your hearing, or new or worsening ringing in the ears, you should get your hearing checked right away,” they said.


Hearing loss not only impairs out living but also causes dementia. There are ways to set healthy noise limits and protect your hearing. Do follow the tips given above and the next time you take your headphones, make sure you keep safe the volume level and only use it for a short time.


Author: Hi there, my name is Subin Joshua, and I am a Medical student. I grew up in a family of teachers and know that being a social worker is my calling. My passion for helping others has been evident in my involvement in helping the poor and needy for the last three years. Through those experiences, I have learned to interact with a diverse group of people, which has increased my ability to relate to others.

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