Do Headphone Damage Hearing?

11 Aug 2015

At present nobody knows how loudly people listen to music on their personal music players on how continuously they do so. What we do know is that personal music players can reach
105 decibels (dB), this level being almost equivalent to holding a chainsaw at arms’ length.

The Dangerous Decibels campaign from the Oregon Health and Science University says that base on this evidence you’d expect to damage you hearing within 15 minutes if you used ordinary headphones with your iPOD at maximum volume.

Loud noises cause hearing loss by damaging the stereocilia: tiny hairs that sit on the top of hair cells in the inner ear. Noise makes them vibrate-changing the voltage in the hair cells which then sends chemical message through nerves to the brain. Battering your stereocilia will damage your hearing.

The issue facing parents is how to advise children so they will listen and take action. Stuart added: “We always advise customers to use good quality head phones that protect against high-frequency sounds, which are most dangerous to hearing. 

Explaining to kids that less is more is also a good idea.  Ask them if they like listening to their favourite band and point out they will find it harder in the future if they don’t turn the volume down and take frequent breaks. It may fall on deaf ears, but at least you’ve started the conversation.” 

Here are some loudness/time facts to consider (the unit of measurement is decibel)

  •  At 95 dB, damage will occur after four hours of exposure per day.
  • At 100 dB, damage will occur after two hours of exposure per day.
  • At 105 dB, damage will occur after one hour of exposure per day.
  • At 110 dB, damage will occur after 30 minutes of exposure per day.
  • At 115 dB, damage will occur after 15 minutes of exposure per day.
  • At 129-plus dB, damage occurs almost immediately.
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