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Are We Listening Our Way To Deafness? How Earphones Can Damage Your Hearing1

From time to time at Know we like to feature articles from people around the hearing healthcare world. This is one such article from Robert Scott who works at Your Hearing in the States. The article is about something we are passionate about, protecting your hearing. Without further fanfare, I will hand you over to Robert:

Are we doing too much damage to our ears by overusing earphones? From daily use at the gym, to hours spent on gaming, we discover some interesting facts on how earphones can play their part in ear damage. At we’re always interested in how our ears can be affected by daily life and the technology we use without realising it’s contributing to poor ear care.

Millions of people around the world use earphones every day when they listen to music. On the way to work, travelling on public transportation, or even strolling through nature alone – we all use them at some point. However, evidence shows that we could be damaging our hearing when we use earphones, and that they should be used in moderation. Here’s a little more information on how they can damage hearing and the precautions you can take to prevent it.

Background Information

Earphones have become more commonly used in recent years, especially among children and teenagers. In fact, so many teenagers use them that one in five is suffering from some form of hearing loss as a result. This figure is up by 30% when compared to the 1980s and 1990s, all because they are becoming more widely used and accessible.


These numbers are quite worrying, especially when people who are so young are already being negatively affected by it. However, while earphones can cause damage to hearing, it is also possible to try and prevent it.

When is it Too Loud and Too Long?

Many people wonder how loud too loud is. When we look at modern audio devices, many of them are able to play music at up to 120 decibels, which is the same level as a rock concert. At this level of sound, it only takes an hour and fifteen minutes for hearing loss to begin.

As a result, it is generally suggested that if you cannot hear your surroundings, then the volume is likely too high and should be turned down. As a result, music players should not be listened to at more than 60% volume if you wish to prevent hearing loss.

Another question that is commonly asked is how long is too long? Many people don’t know the recommended time slot for listening to music through earphones each day. If you are listening at 60% volume, then you should only listen for around 60 minutes a day. This is also known as the 60/60 rule.

If, however, you want to listen to something at maximum volume, then you should not listen to it for more than five minutes per day at that level. The basic rule states that the louder the volume is, the shorter the period of time that you should be listening to the music.

Are You Suffering from Hearing Loss?

Of course, many people who learn about the negative effects earphones can have wanted to know if they are suffering from hearing loss. If you are concerned, you should visit your medical professional to discuss your concerns. In the meantime, here are some of the primary signs and symptoms:

  • Ringing, hissing, buzzing, or roaring in the ear multiple times a day

  • Difficulty understanding speech in a loud environment

  • Muffled sounds and feeling as though your ears are blocked

  • Needing to listen to the TV or radio at a higher volume than you used to

To Conclude

Hearing loss is a very real thing, but with the 60/60 rule, you can prevent it and still enjoy listening to music with your earphones. However, you can also opt for headphones that go over your ears or use bone vibrations for an even safer listening experience. Just remember to take everything in moderation, even listening to music.

While you are here, take a look at our article "How Loud is Too Loud"


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