By Smarty Guest Blogger, Christopher L. Tebbit, MD, Adult & Pediatric Otolaryngology, Charlotte Eye Ear Nose and Throat Associates (CEENTA) Belmont Office
What is light, tiny and has a very low cost that can damage your ears? Earbuds. Earbuds are everywhere – plugged into mobile phones, computers, tablets and more. These little speakers are causing hearing damage at a disturbing rate in kids, teens and adults as we use them in schools, gyms, home and work. This type of hearing loss is not reversible. The longer it goes unrecognized and untreated, the faster it progresses. We have the ability to protect our hearing so why do so many of us put our hearing at risk by damaging our ears?
Earbuds sit within the ear canal which puts the audio signal close to your inner ear boosting the sound by nine decibels. Nine decibels is a substantial amount considering anything over 85 decibels can cause hearing damage. Often times, the earbud does not make a tight seal, allowing background noise to seep in causing us to raise the volume even more.
Tips about earbuds:
– If people around you can hear the sound coming from your earbuds, it is loud enough to be causing permanent hearing loss.
– Wear earmuff-style headphones. You are more at risk of hearing loss if you use earbuds instead of over-the-ear headphones.
– Follow the 60/60 rule. No more than 60% of maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes.
– Buy the newer earbuds that offer a tigher fit to keep out background noise.
– Invest in “custom” earbuds that are made from an impression taken of your ear canal. These block out the most noise, letting you listen at very low levels.
– Educate children and teenagers. Most are not aware that hearing does not come back once it’s gone.
– Decrease the amount of time you use headphones.
– If you can’t hear what is going on around you, the volume level is too high.
When to call the doctor:
– You can hear men’s voices better than a woman’s.
– Some sounds seem too loud.
– You have trouble telling high-pitched sounds (“s” or “th”) from one another.
– People’s voices sound mumbled or slurred.
– You need to turn the TV or radio up.
– You have a ringing or full feeling in your ears.
Did you know?
– The softest sound you can hear is 0 decibels (dB).
– Normal talking is between 40dB and 60dB.
– A concert is between 110dB and 120dB, and as high as 140dB in front of the speakers.
– Headphones are 110dB.
Hearing loss is usually gradual and without obvious warning signs. If you feel as though your hearing may be at risk, please schedule an appointment with one of our Board Certified Ear, Nose and Throat physicians at Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates, PA. by calling 704-295-3000 or visit www.goodsenses.com for more information.