Sunday, March 30, 2014

The 808: How Headphones/Earbuds Are Causing Hearing Loss

"Alright stop. Collaborate and listen."
Wait...what did you say?

Earphones and earbuds are the rage right now and have been for a few years. 
Seems like the bigger (the headphones) the better and louder is in. 
Are we back in the 1990's? Cue Vanilla Ice...

I frequently get asked about the effects of technology use on our bodies. One of the biggest effects is neck and eye strain, but another concern which is growing with each decibel is hearing loss. Out of the 36 million people suffering from hearing loss, about 1 in 3 can be attributed to Noise Induced Hearing Loss. Today, 1 in 5 teens has some sort of hearing loss which is significantly higher than the 1990s, many experts believe it is because of the increased headphone use. 

Here are some "Ice Ice Baby" lyrics to help remind you to tone it down:
  • 808: In case you didn't know, the term "808" typically refers to the penal code for disturbing the peace. It can also refer to the drum machine process used in rap songs in the 1990s to increase decibel levels for the bass sound to have a deeper vibe. But, here's the 808 for you: use your etiquette and manners: lower the volume. Not everyone shares your taste in music. Respect those around you. Don't disturb someone else's peace. Plus, it is better for your ears.
  • "I go crazy when I hear a cymbal": Bells or other types of ringing in your ears are a sign of hearing loss. Known as tinnitus, it can be caused by exposure to loud music, most commonly through mobile devices, especially if played for long periods of time.
  • "Yo! I'll solve it":  Your volume level is recommended to be under 85 decibels. If it reaches above that point, it can cause permanent damage. Most headphones have a maximum volume set at 100 decibels. Beware! Listening to music on max volume with stock headphones at 100 decibels can damage your ears in less than 15 minutes/day. Your ears will naturally readjust to the lower volume after about a week. 
    Check yourself.
  • "The kid don't play": Setting limits to how often and how long you are listening to your music is important. Take OFF those headphones or earbuds and take IN those natural sounds around you. Talk to people, face to face. Get active, go play (whatever that means to you).
  • "Word to your mother": Parents typically know best when it comes to taking care of their children's health, however their kids don't always think so. Buy headphones that fit over your ears (not earbuds) as those are the best for protecting your ears from hearing loss. There are headphones and earbuds available specifically designed to avoid hearing loss. Parents: helpful to talk to your kids about the importance of taking care of their ears.  Kids: listen to your parents now, otherwise you won't be able to listen at all later.

Play your favorite music...jam out. 
Everyone deserves to listen to tunes that free their mind and soothe their soul. 
Just keep it on the down low.

Let's kick it. (No headphones required).

Information to share and discuss:


  1. I know this story all too well. I have significant hearing loss in my left ear and moderate hearing loss in my right due to many factors, e.g., loud music, industrial noise, jet engine noise, loud hobbies. I have found the best way to relay this message to young people is as a cautionary tale. I tell them I once dreamt of owning my own recording studio. I was getting my degree in Audio Recording Engineering at a local college and had purchased thousands of dollars in digital recording eqipment.But then came the day in one of the classes that the instructor was demostrating the types of high frequency noises that can happen in the recording process and I could not hear them. It would be impossible for me to be a successful recording engineer if I could not hear the background noises that can ruin a good recording. My dreams were shattered beyond repair. Hearing does not grow back. Once it is lost, it is lost forever. When I was young I didn't think it was cool to wear ear plugs. The price I paid for looking cool was the loss of a dream.

  2. I'm glad someone finally said something about this. It isn't just kids with their earbuds constantly fused to their ears. I see adults in every aspect of everyday life with them in, and I think is this just passive way to say "I don't want to talk to anyone?" I'm constantly worried that I will damage my hearing if I turn it up too loud, so I appreciate the actual numbers.

    And, thanks for leaving this song in my head for the next few days.

  3. I love this post because it discusses an issue that should be in the news a lot more. I seriously often times wonder "Wow, they better improve treatment for hearing loss fast, because my generation is going to all be deaf by the time we're 40!" I didn't even think about the headphones that go over the ears being better for auditory well-being. They're becoming the "it" thing, and are also helping to prevent hearing loss!

  4. I enjoyed this post because it was a great refresher for me. I remember when news came out about hearing loss due to headphones years ago. I think this is something people understand, but push it under the rug and think that it won't happen to them. I appreciate you re-surfacing the issue, and the creative way in which you did so.

  5. Thanks for posting the blog, it contains very important and helpful information.

  6. Thanks for the helpful guidance to avoid hear loss in future.

  7. Hearing assistive devices are available for use with or without hearing aids.