While many people are fond of using in-ear headphones because they are portable, lightweight, and affordable, some people and experts warn about using them too much. Users should be aware of the possible dangers of headphones. This article discusses the one important question about headphones: are in-ear headphones safe?
There are different types of headphones – in-ear headphones, on ear-headphones, over-ear headphones, etc. In-ear headphones are the most portable and most lightweight headphone.
They come with phones or tablets by default upon purchase. They provide loud sound and isolate noise when properly worn through the walls of the ear canal.
But are they safe? Can they cause hearing loss? Find out why some experts warn about the use of in-ear headphone.
Are in-ear headphones safe?
In-ear headphones block external noise so users can hear every detail of the music or sound they are listening to. This is why professionals use them because the sound transmits directly to the eardrums without any disturbances. But in-ear headphones can be a threat to hearing if they are used excessively and irresponsibly.
Statistics show how dangerous in-ear headphones are. According to the World Health Organization, the 1.1 billion youths in the world have the highest tendency to experience ear damage and hearing loss because of the use of PDAs such as smartphones and tablets, and because of going to entertainment venues such as bars and music festivals where noise can reach up to 120 decibels.
According to the National Institutes of Health, sounds that exceed to 85 decibels and hearing it for long hours repetitively can cause hearing loss. Damage can occur as fast as minutes and when the damage is done, it can’t be treated.
Since in-ear headphones are placed directly or closer to the ear drums, they have the highest tendency to damage the ears and cause hearing loss. They are not safe especially for young people.
Growing hearing problem with in-ear headphones
Hearing problems in this generation are 30 percent higher than in the late 80s and 90s. This has something to do with the gadgets that were used earlier and used nowadays.
In earlier times, Walkmans with double A batteries and shorter battery life were used; today, youths use gadgets with higher volume and longer battery life.
When kids use in-ear headphones excessively, they do not immediately experience the negative effects. Signs of hearing loss occur during early years but happen when the kids turn 20 and 30 years old.
The nerves in the ear are more prone to damage compared to hair cells in the insides of the ear. In just a few minutes of exposure to loud sound, neurons and hair cells can be injured and permanent loss of hearing may occur.
Recommended noise level and exposure
Experts recommend the 60/60 rule when listening to sounds using in-ear headphones. This means that the volume of the source should be below 60 percent at a maximum length of 60 minutes per day.
Users should be aware that they may have a tendency to turn the volume up when they are in a noisy environment.
Parents should watch their younger kids regarding the use of in-ear headphones. Fortunately, Apple has launched a parental control setting in iPhones and iPods which sets the sound at a lower level which is protected by a password.
Types of hearing damage
When users continuously listen to music that is higher than the recommended level and longer than recommended length per day, they are more prone to hearing damage. Hearing damage comes in three types – sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss, and mixed hearing loss.
Sensorineural hearing loss
This may happen in one of the ears only. It is a blend of sensory and neural hearing loss. Sensory hearing loss happens when the Corti and hair cells are injured and incapable to kindle the nerves. Neural hearing loss happens when the nerves can’t transmit neurochemical information.
Conductive hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss happens when the conductive mechanism is not working properly. This mechanism is responsible for transmitting sound vibrations to the internal ear from the middle ear.
Mixed hearing loss
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss. This damage is permanent. Hearing aids are the most common remedy that doctors advise to patients.
Use in-ear headphones responsibly to prevent hearing damage. Use these accessories to improve listening experience and do not impair your hearing.