Something You Don’t Want to Hear About Earbuds

Young adults are experiencing hearing loss and experts say earbuds are to blame. But there are ways to jam out safely.

Ashley Laderer
Elemental
Published in
5 min readAug 19, 2019

--

Photo: Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

HHearing loss isn’t just the stuff of senior citizens: 1 in 5 teens will experience hearing loss — a rate that’s 30% higher than it was 20 years ago. You know what wasn’t around 20 years ago? Earbuds.

At maximum volume, earbuds and AirPods can be as loud as 110 decibels, which is the equivalent of someone shouting directly into your ear. According to the CDC, being exposed to 85 decibels over a prolonged period, or repeatedly, puts you at risk of hearing damage. If you’re listening to your earbuds at the maximum volume of 110 decibels, you’re at risk of hearing loss after just five minutes — barely the length of two songs.

Alison M. Grimes, Director of Audiology and Newborn Hearing Screening at UCLA Health, says that two main factors contribute to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL): how loud the sound is and the duration of that sound. “The ear doesn’t care if it’s Tchaikovsky or Grateful Dead,” she says. “It’s all about sound pressure level in the ear canal.”

“To further complicate things, different people have different susceptibility to NIHL,” Grimes adds. “Some people have tough ears and they…

--

--

Ashley Laderer
Elemental

writer aiming to make people with mental health conditions feel less alone 🦄 it’s okay to be not okay. instagram + twitter @ashley_unicorn