I’m Hear for You: The Case of Headphones and Hearing Loss

ear doctorMany people nowadays rely on iPods and MP3s to escape boredom or lighten up the mood. Having earphones plugged in all the time has become a habit for teenagers and young adults, and majority of them don’t realize that they risk their hearing abilities every day because of it. Many audiologists and health-care professionals in Los Angeles and other parts of the US are seeing an increase in patients with hearing loss, so they advise everyone to know more about this condition to prevent it.

Why Loud Music Causes Deafness

According to Dr. Martine Hamann of the University of Leicester, deafness due to loud music from headphones can affect nerves similar to multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease of the immune system. Noise levels higher than 110 decibels damage the protective coating, known as myelin, of nerve fibers that carry signals from the ear to the brain. This can lead to hearing problems, such as tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or temporary deafness.

Decibel Levels and Hearing Loss

A normal conversation between two people ranges from 40 to 60 decibels, while the volume of speakers at a rock concert is somewhere between 110 and 140 decibels. By wearing headphones, you expose the ear to as much decibels as that in a rock concert. It’ll damage the nerve fibers slowly if you listen to loud music every day for a significant number of hours. Those who have a family history of hearing loss are more prone to it.

When to Visit an Ear Doctor

After removing your headphones, observe if you experience a ringing or muffling sensation in the ears for more than 24 hours. Other signs of hearing loss include mumbling, difficulty recognizing high-pitched sounds, and selective sound volumes. Visit an ear doctor in Los Angeles, Sacramento, or whatever part of California you’re in to get a hearing check-up. They’ll determine the degree of your hearing loss and recommend necessary treatment.

There’s nothing wrong with listening to music using your headphones as long as you know how to moderate it. By reducing the exposure or minimizing the volume, you’ll prolong the lifespan of nerve fibers and save your ears from hearing loss. For preventive measures, it’s also advisable to visit an audiologist.

Sources:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000495.htm
http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=186427
http://pacificspecialists.com/?page_id=3198

About the Author

As a New York-based psychologist. Thelma Scott has conducted several seminars tackling adult autism.