Earbuds can permanently ruin hearing

After you wear your headphones or earbuds, do you notice ringing, roaring or buzzing in your ears? This means it’s time to turn down the volume. These are signs you could be damaging your hearing.

That’s because excessive noise, including music, can cause damage to sensitive structures in the inner ear. These sensory cells, known as hair cells, convert sound wave energy that reaches the eardrum into electrical nerve signals that then travel to the brain. These very small hair cells in your ear have to maintain a strict organization in order for you to hear. When sensory cells are damaged or die, the result is permanent hearing loss.

Noise is one of the biggest causes of hearing loss. As you lose the hair cells in your ear, your body works to repair them, but if you keep doing it over and over, they can’t repair themselves fast enough. It’s just like blowing out a speaker, or think of it much like sun exposure to skin — the greater the cumulative exposure, the greater the damage.

If you listen to loud music (or any loud environment) one or two times, it’s not going to hurt your ears that much, but if you listen one or two times a day, over time, the hearing damage could be irreversible.

Constant exposure to noise has also been linked to other health problems. Excessive noise levels can lead to sleep disturbance, poor performance at school and even cardiovascular disease. Companies who manufacture portable devices are getting better about limiting how loud their devices will go, but ultimately, you’re in control.

Tips to prevent hearing loss: 

  • If you’re at a concert or club, consider bringing along ear plugs and sit in the middle of the room.
  • Buy headphones over earbuds as the chance of overexposure to loud sound could be reduced.
  • If you’re working with noisy tools like lawnmowers or power saws, wear ear protection.
  • Help your friends. If you’re sitting next to them and can hear their music, ask them to “Turn it down.”
  • Visit a hearing care professional to obtain a baseline evaluation of your hearing health.

Read more about Northside's Audiology Services.