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Listening devices like headphones and earbuds are everywhere. We use them for music, radio, podcasts, and movies to ensure privacy and not disturb others. But with COVID-19 shutting down most schools, online learning has become yet another risk to hearing health.

Cilia

Cilia are the delicate hair cells in your ears responsible for transmitting electrical signals to your brain where it registers as sound. When you expose cilia to loud noise – anything over 85 decibels – they retain irreparable damage because they cannot regenerate.

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is the most common cause of hearing loss, especially among young people as headphones and earbuds become ever more prevalent in our society. Roughly one billion young people are at risk of hearing loss caused by noise-related damage, according to the World Health Organization.

Earbuds Vs. Headphones

The danger of earbuds is that they place loud noises closer in the canal. When you crank the volume on your earbuds to jam to your favorite music, it’s like putting your ear directly onto a speaker. Headphones are only slightly better than earbuds because they sit on top of your ears and create a bit of a buffer between your ear canal and the noise.

The problem with both options is that most earbuds and headphones aren’t very high quality. Both are ineffective at blocking out background noise in situations where you need to hear, like online tutoring. Typically, you’ll turn up the volume to block out any distracting noises.

What Are My Options?

The best option is to invest in higher quality listening devices that cancel out ambient sound, so you won’t have to increase the volume. Noise-canceling headphones block both low- and high-frequency ambient noise. Noise-isolating headphones will fit like a seal over your ears to physically block background sounds.

If you aren’t in a place to invest in new headphones, follow the 60/60 rule. Don’t wear headphones for longer than 60 minutes at a time and keep the volume at 60% capacity.

If you’re a student taking online classes, try finding a quiet location to work, so you don’t have to use headphones to hear. Parents should monitor their children’s use of headphones and earbuds to prevent hearing damage early on.

Audiology & Hearing Services of Charlotte is committed to protecting your hearing, especially during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 epidemic. Call 704-412-7975, or contact us online to learn more about our services and hearing protection.

- Audiology & Hearing Services of Charlotte
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