Many have heard that headphones are harmful. We understand whether listening to your favourite music really worsens the hearing and what to do about it.
5 Harmful Effects of Listening Music with Earphones
According to WHO, more than a billion young people risk spoiling and even losing their hearing because of their love of loud music. Doctors mention not only the use of headphones but also attending concerts. The study was conducted among people aged 12 to 35 who often listen to music on players and smartphones, which is almost 50% of young people in developed countries; WHO considers the noise level of more than 85 dB to be exposed to over several hours as unsafe. The scientists pointed out that the acceptable listening time for loud music in the 100 dB range is limited to 15 minutes.
Put the headphones aside?
Contrary to popular stereotype, harm is caused not by the proximity of the noise source but by its intensity. That is, listening to music in headphones within the recommended norms is safer than turning it on at full volume in speakers. For comparison, the noise at 80 dB is comparable to the sound of a mixer or a passing freight train. 100 dB is a jackhammer working next to you or a landing aircraft within a 1-2 km radius.
How to understand that there are health risks
Hardly every house has a device to measure the noise level so that you can focus on analogues. The body also makes it clear that the impact was too intense. If classical music in the playlist is replaced by heavy metal, and the sound you do not reduce, the auditory sensor system fails. You may feel tinnitus and temporary hearing loss. This is especially noticeable when going outside after loud concerts, but it can also happen when you take off your headphones.
Hidden hearing loss
“But I’ve been listening to loud music with headphones all my life, and I don’t have hearing problems,” the headphone lover says. It’s not a fact that it is. Scientists have coined the term “hidden hearing loss.” It damages the fibre of the auditory nerves, which is involved in audio perception processes in noisy places. Hidden hearing loss does not interfere with communication, recognises sounds in conversation, and is not always noticeable in a calm environment, making it difficult to conduct tests.
In 2015, researchers organized an experiment involving two groups of respondents – music college students and students in the direction of communication. The first often listened to loud music in recent years, the second – no. Both groups were offered to take the usual hearing test in a quiet room, which the students coped well with. But later, it turned out that music lovers can not recognize the sounds in the room, were noisy, or there is an echo. Electrode diagnostics supported the results of the research. As a result, doctors have seen that frequent listening to loud music negatively affects hearing.
Is there any health harm from headphones
Scientists do not claim that headphones’ ubiquity has affected the statistical deterioration of hearing of young people. A study by the University of California involving more than 7,000 people was conducted over a period of 22 years, from 1988 to 2010. It did not confirm the noticeable hearing impairment of respondents, despite the growing popularity of portable players and smartphones during this period of time.
Another experiment involved people aged 20-69. The scientists made four samples: in 1999 and 2004, and then in 2011 and 2012. The experiment involved 3,831 people whose doctors found an average hearing loss of 2%. Scientists believe this is the result of age-related degenerative changes, not the effects of headphones. Over time, the hearing inevitably worsens, especially by the age of 70.
How long can you listen to music?
Studies have shown that health is affected by noise levels and the duration of its effects. Audiological measurements supported the survey and diagnosis of hearing in 280 adolescents aged 17 years. Scientists recorded decibels of music that were common to young people. As a result, it was noted that prolonged exposure to loud noises over several years is directly related to the lower threshold of audibility. Doctors believe that this is a vicious circle: the gradual deterioration of hearing provokes the music lover to turn it even louder.
How to choose headphones and not go deaf
Few people admit that they prefer very loud sounds, annoying hearing. In fact, many do not notice that the decibels have crossed the threshold of the permissible. People increase the volume, trying to drown out foreign sounds – the noise of the subway, the roar of the crowd, and the taxi driver’s unpleasant playlist. In such cases, it is necessary to pick up headphones with noise cancellation. Increasing the volume is especially dangerous when using small earbuds. They have a small speaker, so you have to turn on the sound to the maximum. The harm of wireless headphones also does not preclude partial or total hearing loss. At the same time, scientists claim that the constant use of Bluetooth headset can cause brain diseases. If you are concerned about tinnitus, headache and hearing loss, see a therapist. The doctor will prescribe further examinations and give recommendations. In most cases, it is enough to reduce the time of listening to music or buy other headphones; you do not have to give up your favourite tracks on the run.