In this era of modern technology, our phones, computers, and cars are getting smarter and smarter. They know our favorite music when creating a playlist, remember sites we visit frequently, and even help us when we drive, giving directions, or providing a back-up camera to help us get out of that tight parking space. While many features are designed to keep you safe, the reality is that some of this technology could be damaging your hearing.
The biggest concern when it comes to new technology and hearing is excessive earbud use. It’s almost impossible to spot someone on the street without cords dangling from their ears, blasting music as they go for a jog or take the dog for a walk, or listening to a podcast on the commute to work. Several studies have shown a clear link between our use of technology and early hearing loss. It’s not just seniors who suffer from hearing loss, but with today’s advancements in technology, children, teens, and adults all face hearing loss at alarming rates.
A study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that earbuds can produce sounds of up to 120 decibels! That’s as loud as standing right next to a chainsaw. At this level, listening for just 15 minutes will cause permanent damage. When you’re stuck in traffic, you’re so busy blocking out the other sounds in the environment that you ignore safe sound levels and crank it up. When your main concern is hearing every note and not your own safety, permanent damage in only a matter of time. And the louder you play your favorite workout track, the faster that damage will occur.
Technology continues to improve every day. Think about the home surround sound system you purchased last year, and how the floorboards shake when you turn it up all the way, as you try to recreate cinema quality in your own home. While earbud use on its own might not account for the increased rates of hearing loss, the amount of noise you encounter on a daily basis adds to the strain on your already overworked ears. Noise pollution includes all the background noises that are inescapable, like the phones in the office, the crowded sidewalk streets, traffic, the construction on the corner, and even the restaurant you’re planning to eat dinner in tonight. Maintaining healthy hearing means you must be aware of these risk factors, and find time to give your ears a rest.
Turning Down the Volume
Listening with earbuds shouldn’t lead to hearing loss, but it does. This is because we listen too loudly, sending dangerously loud sounds of 100dB and higher pulsing deep into our inner ear. If your music is so loud that the person sitting next to you can hear it, it’s far too loud! Turn it down, and safeguard your hearing.
Take a Break
If you listen to music with earbuds for hours on end, it’s time to take a break. A good rule of thumb is the 60/60 rule. Never listen at more than 60% volume, and give your ears a rest after 60 minutes. Take out those earbuds, listen to the birds and pet a puppy. You don’t have to be shut up in your own world 24/7. Taking a break allows your ears to rest, preventing damage from over exposure to the dangerously loud sounds blasting from your earbuds.
Treating Hearing Loss
Do you have hearing loss from unsafe use of modern technology? One third of hearing loss is preventable! Take steps to protect yourself. Turn down the volume, take a break, and listen safely. The problem with hearing loss is that you often don’t notice right away, even if your hearing has been damaged. Hearing loss is a gradual process, and it takes several months or years for most people to realize they have hearing loss.
If you already have hearing loss, visit us today at Bay Area Hearing for a hearing assessment. Hearing aids these days are sleek and sophisticated with modern designs. We’ll provide you with the information and advice you need to make an informed decision about your hearing health, and help you pick the hearing aid that’s right for your life.