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Headphones & Your Health: Can Loud Music Cause Hearing Loss?

Feb. 8, 2021 - Katie McCallum

There's nothing like listening to your favorite song. There's also nothing like listening to your favorite song on blast.

But while jamming through a workout or bopping along to your Daily Mix as you work, should you reconsider the volume of your music?

"Our ears are incredibly complex and sensitive. There are thousands of cells with millions of tiny hair-like structures in our inner ear that facilitate hearing, but these cells and structures can be damaged by loud sound," warns Dr. Brian Wang, ear nose and throat doctor specializing in hearing loss at Houston Methodist. "If damage accumulates over time and causes you to lose hearing, you can't get it back. Similarly, if you're exposed acutely to a very loud noise like a firecracker, it's very hard to recover from that trauma."

Sounds are everywhere, and the volume of a sound is described in decibels (dB). Sounds less than around 70 dB are safe and won't typically affect your hearing. As sounds get louder and/or the amount of time you listen to loud sounds gets longer, damage to your hearing becomes more and more likely.

"What many people may not realize is that the maximum volume of personal listening devices is well above 70 dB, and when you're using earbuds or headphones to listen to your music the sound is going directly into to your ear," explains Dr. Wang. "Listening to your music too loudly, as well as loudly for extended periods of time, can indeed cause damage to your hearing over time."

To reduce your risk of hearing loss, Dr. Wang recommends learning when your music is considered too loud and how to listen safely.

When it comes to headphones: How loud is too loud, how long is too long?

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