Are we destroying our ears?


| 5 Comments

Hearing is one of our most basic senses.  We use it to listen to the teacher lecture and our friends talk.  We use our ears every day of our lives. They are certainly one of the most valuable assets we as humans have.  Without hearing, we would be completely different individuals.  Communication would be changed forever.  

I pose the question to you, the readers, are headphones bad for your hearing?  With the advances in technology today and the invention of the iPhone, iPod and many other mp3 music playing devices we have the opportunity to listen to music almost every second of the day.  Among one of the new Apple iPhone 5 advancements is a new earbud piece that gives users the ability to have music streaming directly in to their ear bud with an even more snug fit.   

Some facts about hearing, earbuds, and music are as follows:

-Boys listen to music louder than girls 

-Teens play music louder than young adults

-Teens are often unaware as to how loud their music is actually playing 

With the ability to listen to music at all times of the day on our cellphones, the risk for hearing loss and hurting your ears is ever increasing.  Back in the 1990's when Walkman's and portable CD players that operated on AA batteries, listeners had limited windows for how long they could listen to their music before their devices died out on them.  With the prolonged use that we are exposed to these days, we have a greater chance to damage our ears. 

I am not proposing people stop listening to music and switch to readings books or poetry instead, but what I am saying is that people need to be aware how long they are listening to their devices for, what kind of music they are listening to, and what kind of ear phones they have.  

But all ears are not created equal.  Some people are born with tougher ears.  These people have the ability to listen to loud music for longer periods of time at high decibel levels without fear of going deaf.  The part of the ear that is most affected by loud music are the delicate hair cells that line your ear.  These hair cells convert sound to electrical signals that the brain interprets as the wonderful sounds and tunes that we call music.

Apple's headphones are not the safest and we would be far better off spending the extra money on background noise canceling headphones.  These types of headphones have the benefit of protecting parts of our ear that a basic pair would not.  Using stock ear phones for 5 minutes a day while listening to music at full volume is shown to greatly increase the risk for hearing loss in a "typical" person.  If you use the earbuds that come with an iPod at 90% of the maximum volume level and you listen for two hours a day for five days a week you will also be at a significantly higher risk for hearing loss.

 So the next time you decide to crank up the music on your iPod just be careful.  Don't say I didn't warn you.


SOURCES:

http://www.livescience.com/3348-teens-crank-ipod-volume-risk-hearing-damage.html 

http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1827159,00.html

5 Comments

I have been thinking about this a lot recently, as I tend to blast music in my ears to and from class every single day. I've tried to turn it down some but I can't, music sounds better to me the louder it is, without being obnoxiously loud of course. So instead of turning my volume down, I've tried to cut down on listening to music between classes. I doubt this will last, but it's worth a try. Perhaps I just need to invest in a better pair of earbuds.

This is a topic that I am interested in because it is something that will show its affects directly on our generation since prior have not had these oppurtunities like we do. I agree that we will see more hearing issues with our loud music listening generation, especially with ear buds and ipods. Something needs to be done to prevent serious societal issues. What I disgree with is the idea that earbuds that block out other sounds are more beneficial. They are only helpful if you turn down the music because you will not be hearing other sounds!

I think this topic is really interesting--especially since we are one of the first generations to always use headphones instead of playing music in an open room. Like the cell phone question, I think this problem is something where we will have to wait and see what develops. As we our one of the first generations to use these regularly, it's possible that any negative side affects won't appear for quite some time, just like the first smokers. Let's keep our fingers crossed that there are none!

I'm guilty of blasting my music way too loud sometimes. I thought the effects of hearing loss are caused more by the volume your music is on than what kind of headphones you're using. But I was wrong. It's both that can lead to damaging your hearing, according to osteopathic.org. The volume of your music device shouldn't go past 60%. And it's also recommended that headphones that go over your ears, like Beats, should be used more than ones that go directly into your ears.
http://www.osteopathic.org/osteopathic-health/about-your-health/health-conditions-library/general-health/Pages/headphone-safety.aspx

At a career fair, I spoke with a hearing specialist who told me that listening to headphones that fit more tightly in the ear are better for your hearing. The reason for this is that if the outside sound is blocked more effectively, you are able to listen to the music at a lower volume. From a quick Google search, it seems that most sites agree that all headphones are damaging to your ears, but that the volume is an important factor that you have the power to control.

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