According to an article in US News & World Report’s Health Care/Patient Advice column, unsafe earbud use can potentially lead to irreversible, noise-induced hearing loss.

US News Staff Writer Lisa Esposito reports that earbuds are ubiquitous and, although they are convenient and efficient at delivering clear sound directly into your ear canals, this has a downside in terms of your hearing health and the negative impact on those delicate sensory cells deep within your ears.

This information is not new for audiologists who have been warning their patients about the risks of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) since the days of blaring headphones and the Sony Walkman (personal stereo). But for a new generation of concert-going, earbud-wearing teens and young adults, the NIHL warnings and the importance of safe listening may be new.

US News & World Report Esposito writes that nearly half of teens and young adults aged 12 to 25 in middle- and high-income countries are exposed to unsafe sound levels via personal audio devices, according to the World Health Organization.

Esposito gathered tips from experts like audiologists Brian Fligor, ScD, and Jason Wigand, AuD, and music engineering expert Rob Jaczko, on how to protect your hearing. Their tips can be shared with a new generation of parents and their youngsters:

  • Keep volume levels down — below 60-80% of the maximum setting on music players and other devices.
  • Limit your duration of exposure to high levels of sound — a good rule of thumb for kids: about 1-2 hours of daily listening at most.
  • Set the maximum volume settings on your kids’ portable devices such as iPods and iPads to safer (lower) levels.
  • Upgrade from standard-issue earbuds to well-fitting, noise canceling earphones that block out ambient noise — If there is ambient noise, as with earbuds, your kids will crank up the volume.
  • Carry earplugs to protect your hearing.
  • Pay attention to tinnitus, an early warning sign of hearing loss (and more teens are presenting with tinnitus).
  • Pay attention to other signs of early hearing loss (everyday sounds are fading), and get hearing checked regularly.
  • Notice when kids listen less, or if school performance is slipping.

For details and additional information, see Esposito’s original article on the US News & World Report website.

Source: US News & World Report Online

Image credits: US News & World Report; © Monkey Business Images |