Headphones and Hearing Loss: A Likely Pair

Personal listening devices have their appeal. They allow us to play loud music while also being discreet. Even better, headphones today are able to produce such high-quality sounds that when you wear them it’s like you’re listening to your own private concert.

While loud sounds are known to damage our ears, what about the quieter ones? You may not realize it, but your smartphone could be slowly affecting your hearing. In fact, 1 in 5 kids today has been found to have some degree of hearing loss. Some experts believe MP3 players are to blame.

Given the fact that smartphones and MP3 players aren’t going to slow in popularity anytime soon, it makes sense to understand the capabilities of the various headphones on the market today. By doing so, you can make a more informed decision about which ones you should wear.

Earbuds: The Direct Route to Hearing Loss

Most MP3 players come with standard earbuds, also known as in-ear headphones. These are the most common type of headphone because they’re simple, cheap and relatively small. These earbuds are inserted directly into your ear, and at high volumes they can actually affect your hearing. For that reason, it is particularly important that you avoid using them for long durations or at high volume.

Over-the-ear Headphones
As their name implies, this style of earpiece fits directly over your ear. These are typically bulkier than earbuds and produce music with the highest degree of fidelity. They’re also great at blocking out external noise. Listening to music at high volume with this style can be extremely satisfying, but can still cause hearing damage when listened to for an extended duration. Music lovers favor this style because of their crisp treble and full, rounded bass sounds. On the downside, they can sometimes be bulky and not as portable.

Wireless Headphones

If you prefer not to fuss with a cord and don’t mind being close to your audio device, consider wireless headphones. Most models use radio frequencies or Bluetooth technology to send the signal to your headset. Sound quality can vary and interference with other wireless devices can be a problem. However, wireless headphones also enable you to stream music over the Internet. Some hearing aids today, like Miracle-Ear’s new GENIUS aids, are now incorporating wireless technology—making it easier to control your hearing aids discreetly and efficiently.

Custom Headphones
As the name suggests, these headphones are custom-made to fit your ear. While they’re typically more expensive than other headphones, they’re able to provide superior sound quality. In fact, because custom headphones deliver such rich, detailed sounds, you’re able to listen to them at a much lower volume while still getting the full effect. Due to the hefty price tag, custom headphones are usually only used by musicians and sound technicians, but casual music lovers who are willing to pay a little more may be interested in these too. In order to purchase custom headphones you first need to visit an hearing care specialist to make impressions of your ear canals.

Noise Canceling Headphones

One reason why people tend to turn the volume up on their personal listening devices is to block out distracting noises that may be coming from the outside world. That’s why noise canceling headphones are your best bet in terms of protecting yourself from hearing loss. Available in a wide range of quality levels and price ranges, this design uses noise canceling technology to reduce external noise to a minimum. These headphones are often used in noisy environments such as on airplanes. Noise canceling headphones give you the opportunity to hear the full range of your music without annoying external distractions, thereby allowing you to leave the volume at a lower level and protecting your hearing.

Use the 60/60 Rule

No matter which style of headphones you prefer, you can take some steps to protect your ears. Use the 60/60 rule: listen to your music at 60% maximum volume for no more than 60minutes a day. Remember, if other people near you can hear the music blasting out of your headphones, it’s too loud.

Your hearing is precious, which is why it’s so important that you protect it. It takes the average person 7 years between the time they notice a hearing loss and actually seeking help. Unfortunately, all that time spent in a world of lulled sound could have been prevented if they took the time to seek help. Take care of your ears. Schedule a hearing exam today.