Can Modern Earphones Make You Go Deaf?
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Can Modern Earphones Make You Go Deaf?

Carmela De Simone March 31, 2022

Popping in your air pods and blocking the world out can be one of the most therapeutic and enjoyable experiences, but can modern earphones contribute to you going deaf?

Since the Walkman was released in 1979, portable audio devises have been a constant companion for music-lovers, commuters, and people who simply don’t want to talk to anyone.

Over time, earphones have evolved to become louder, more compact, wireless and noise-cancelling. However, earphones are significantly more damaging than headphones, despite these advancements.

A Unique Listening Experience

The increasing appeal of earphones is driven by increasingly portable, convenient, desirable and innovative features that create a unique listening experience compared to listening on a stereo or speaker.

In late 2020, Apple introduced the spatial audio function to transmit surround sound and 3D audio while using AirPods.

AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, Beats Fit Pro, and 3rd Generation AirPods initially enabled spatial audio for movies and TV series on apple devices with iOS 14 and above.

This feature is now available on every app on the iPhone with iOs15. This includes Apple Music, Spotify, Disney+, YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu.

Listening Too Hard And Too Loud

Listening to music using earphones should be done at a maximum volume of 70-80 decibels. Despite this, many modern devices allow an output over 85. On an iPhone, the maximum volume while wearing earphones is as loud as 120 decibels.

But it’s not just volume that can affect your hearing; it’s also the length of time spent listening using earphones. Earphones can damage the ears if played at consistently high volumes. Modern earphones also produce electromagnetic waves that are harmful to the brain.

Like everything, there are pros and cons to every different listening device. Over-the-ear headphones are better at noise-cancelling, which creates better sound quality which can be enjoyed at a lower volume. But these are much less practical than earbuds or isolating earbuds when out and about.

Is The Damage Done?

Ambient noise is more noticeable using earphones, which is safer when being used in public and busy areas. However, people tend to increase the volume to counteract this, causing more internal damage to the ear.

Isolating earbuds have rubber tips that conceal the ear canal, which helps noise-cancelling and also provides comfort. These aren’t practical devices for people involved in high-intensity outdoor activities, such as cyclists and runners, because they pose a greater threat and distraction when people move at speed.

Misuse can result in partial impairment to complete hearing loss. Symptoms of hearing loss include ringing in the ears, buzzing noises and difficulty hearing at a low volume.

There is no way to reverse damage to the ear canal once it occurs in inner ears. Doctors suggest going by the 60/60 rule to minimise hearing loss. When using headphones listen for no more than 60 minutes at a time and at 60 percent volume.

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I am a journalism graduate from Brunel University. My background is in property lettings and the motor industry. I’m obsessed with all things health & beauty, travel, music and Turkish food. You will most often find me drinking vodka lime sodas and watching Shrek.