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The Effects of Prolonged Headphone Use on Hearing from a Scientific Viewpoint
Most of us enjoy listening to music through headphones. They are comfortable, and provide a more personal listening experience. Whether it is on a regular basis or occasional instead, the majority of us have used headphones at some point in time. They are perfect for late night strolls, the cumbersome commute to work, or just trying to relax on public transport. Of course, we don’t often think about the effect our music could be having on our hearing, especially as it is something we tend to take for granted. Here is some more information on the effects of prolonged headphone used on our hearing from hearing specialists Yourhearing.com
How Damage is Caused
Damage to the ears is caused when the stereocilia in the ears are harmed. These are tiny hairs that line the inner ear, and you can actually feel them when you touch the inside of your ear. When you hear noises, the hairs will vibrate. This then changes the level of voltage that runs through the hair cells, and chemical messages are sent through the nerves and up to the brain. When loud music is playing, it causes more intense vibrations that end up damaging the stereocilia. As a result of this, your hearing can become damaged.
However, it should be noted that headphones and hearing loss may actually not be the culprit. While a good pair of headphones can help to even out the bass, especially when compared to a cheap pair, none of them seems to be inherently good or bad for your hearing so far. In fact, scientific research seems to show that it is the volume that has the most effect as opposed to the way in which is reaches your ears. The next section has further information on the relation between the two.
Volume and Hearing Loss
Following on from the previous section, it is entirely possible that headphones aren’t the cause of hearing loss, and that it is primarily the volume at which you are listening to the music which has a negative effect. When we look at modern audio devices, it is easy to see that most of them are able to play music up to a level of 120 decibels. To put this into perspective, you are looking at a volume level that is equivalent to a rock concert
When you listen to music at this level of volume, you can expect to see the beginning of hearing loss after around an hour and a quarter. As a result, it is recommended that you do not listen to your music devices at more than 60% volume if you wish to try and prevent hearing loss.
To help put things into perspective, here is a decibel level list of many everyday items you will encounter, courtesy of the NHS:
* normal conversation: 60-65dB
* a busy street: 75-85dB
* lawn mower/heavy traffic: 85dB
* forklift truck: 90dB
* hand drill: 98dB
* heavy lorry about seven metres away: 95-100dB
* motorbikes: 100dB
* cinema: some films regularly top 100dB during big action scenes
* disco/nightclub/car horn: 110dB
* MP3 player on loud: 120dB
* chainsaw: 115-120dB
* rock concert/ambulance siren: 120dB
How Long Should You Listen?
After reading about the damage that can be caused by prolonged exposure to loud music and sounds, many wonder how long they should be listening to their music for each day. Here is some concise information that should help you figure out how long you can listen to your tunes for before you should consider stopping: * 60% volume for 60 minutes per day (also known as the 60/60 rule)
* 100% volume for 5 minutes per day (and no longer than that)
The basic rule of listening to music is that the louder the volume is, the shorter the listening period should be.
While the use of headphones in relation to hearing loss is currently inconclusive, there is definitely a correlation with regards to the level of volume and the length of time the music is listened to. While further research is being carried out, the best thing to do is try to adhere to the 60/60 rule and be aware of how loud your music is when you go to listen to it.